J. Cole once again does close to nothing


J. Cole’s new album is disappointing. Pixabay’s image

J. Cole has presented yet another average album that his fans will treat like gospel while his haters will write off as trash without listening to a single track. Those who formulate their opinion after listening to “KOD” probably don’t have much more to say that they did on his last album. J. Cole seems to cultivate the reputation that he is one of the most “woke” rappers out right now, however, he has again failed to meet that expectation.

“KOD” has three meanings, according to Cole’s tweet prior its release: “Kids on Drugs,” “King Overdosed” and “Kill Our Demons.” This, along with the narrator in the intro telling us to “choose wisely,” suggests that drug culture is going to be a major theme of the album but this message is diluted by Cole’s typical rhetoric on money, taxes, stalking a girl on Instagram and telling other rappers what he thinks they should be doing.

I would have expected title track “KOD” to include this theme but the first half of the song is a reiteration of the message better stated in “GOMD.” The second half of the song features some bars about drugs without any sort of negative connotation, making me wonder when J. Cole’s trademark “wokeness” was to show up.

“Photograph” is a song about falling in love with a girl’s Instagram account and is more creepy than deep. Some say this song is meant to expose the drug-like nature of social media addiction, which seems like a stretch. To compare the damages from an obsession with social media to the drug culture is a bit absurd.

J. Cole is known for using few-to-zero featured artists, so it was notable when the tracklist showcased an unknown artist who goes by Kill Edward. Rumors say that he is just an alter ego for J. Cole. Their voices are similar and Edward is the name of Cole’s dad, whom Cole attributes much of his mother’s troubles too. Whoever the mysterious artist is, he doesn’t bring anything good to the table. His “FRIENDS” hook seems off-tempo and his singing/rapping is mediocre at best.

The best songs on the album are “Motiv8,” “Kevin’s Heart” and “1935.” “Motiv8” is the sleepiest motivational song in existence. “Kevin’s Heart,” compares a romantic relationship to a relationship with drugs, while in “1985” Cole gives his perspective on the rap industry and the direction it is going, as well as a critique (or possibly advice) for newer rappers, presumably Lil Pump. He talks about how Pump should spend his money better and acknowledge that clueless privileged children think Pump’s music is a window to black culture.

“KOD,” like J. Cole’s last two albums, is like a recent Superman movie. There are some decent verses and some cool effects but, in the end, you’ve gained nothing. J. Cole has brought nothing new and Superman has no more abilities than he did 30 years ago.