This album was released on April 20th in 2018. First of all, that album cover is fucking incredible. Kamau Haroon did a phenomenal job with that. Anyway, I used to think J. Cole was overrated, but I realized I was just saying this because I’m from North Carolina. Everyone in North Carolina loves J. Cole more than I think they should. He’s definitely above average. As a musician, I’d say he’s very good. He’s a great producer, and a talented MC as well. However, I was let down by his 2016 release, 4 Your Eyez Only. I understood the concept, but as a whole the album was disappointing sonically. Anyway, if the album cover is anything to go off of, this is gonna be one fire ass project. Every track is produced by J. Cole, except where noted.
The Cut Off featuring kiLL Edward
Kevin’s Heart produced by T-Minus & Mark Pelli
Once an Addict Interlude
Friends featuring kiLL Edward
1985 Intro to “The Fall Off”
The intro is all about how children function.
A newborn baby has two primary forms of communication:
Laughter, which says, ‘I love this,’ or
Crying, which says, ‘this frightens me, I’m in pain.’
One of the interpretations of the title is “Kids on Drugs,” so I’m assuming this album will have a lot to do with my generations’ drug abuse. I’m not really a kid anymore, but you know what I mean. It also stands for “King Overdosed,” which is why Cole’s eyes are rolled back into his head on the album cover. The final interpretation is “Kill Our Demons.” I love the jazzy production on the intro. The whole drug theme of this album is genius to be honest. It’s smart that he dropped the album on 4/20 as well. I love the Trap inspired production on the title track. He slaughtered the first verse.
‘How come you won’t get a few features?
I think you should?’ How ’bout I don’t?
How ’bout you just get the fuck off my dick?
How ’bout you listen and never forget?
Only gon’ say this one time, then I’ll dip
Niggas ain’t worthy to be on my shit
His flow was nice as hell. The hook is nothing special, but it serves its purpose. The second verse was even better than the first. At the end of the song, Cole concludes that the strongest drug out there is “love.” Padlock Jones’ dumbass would say this is corny, but I’d have to agree with Cole. Photograph is about Cole trying to finesse an insta-thot. In other words, he’s “fallen in love” with an instagram model.
Fell in love through a photograph
I don’t even know your name
Wonder if you’d follow back
I hope to see you one day
I won’t show my niggas now
I’II keep this one for myself
Love today’s gone digital
And it’s messing with my health
I love the way the production gets slightly dreamier for the final recital of the hook. It transitions into the next track really well. The Cut Off features J. Cole’s pitch shifted alter ego, kiLL Edward. He did a decent job on the hook. Cole goes in about having to cut moochers off. There’s only one verse. It’s dope though.
The hook on ATM is dope af. Same goes for the production. I love the piano-driven beat, and J. Cole’s flow is nice as hell on this track. The music video is beautiful. Motiv8 wouldn’t be a bad choice for a single. That Get Money sample sounds dope af, and Cole’s flow is really great on the refrain. The song is really short. It’s good though.
The production on Kevin’s Heart is fantastic. Kevin is a character who is in love with drugs.
I’m a fake nigga and it’s never been clearer
Can’t see myself when I look in the mirror
Kevin is literally fake because he’s a character made up by J. Cole. BRACKETS opens up with a Richard Pryor sample about having a lot of money. I don’t mind Cole’s singing on the bridge. The final verse is about how Cole doesn’t really feel rich because his money goes towards taxes.
Damn, do I even have a say ’bout where it’s goin’?
Some older nigga told me to start votin’
I said ‘Democracy is too fuckin’ slow’
If I’m givin’ y’all this hard-earned bread, I wanna know
So BRACKETS is a song about taxes. Ha. Nice. I thought it was gonna be a reach for a single about wasting money on trifles. The Once An Addict interlude is dope af. I loved hearing Cole go in with minimal percussion. He killed that verse, and the production was really great as well. An alternative title for this album could have been “Choose Wisely.” That’s what I’m gonna have it saved as in my iTunes library. The production on FRIENDS is smooth as shit. I loved Cole’s dramatic delivery, and I like how he advised listeners to meditate rather than medicate on the bridge. The title of the outro is corny as fuck. Window Pain? I unfortunately remember when Em said some shit like that on I Love The Way You Lie. Panic Hippy turned it into a meme. The song is thankfully actually really dope. I love the beat, and Cole’s melodic delivery is nice too. It ends with some dumbass kids talking about how God is gonna “restart the world.” 1985 is labeled as an intro to something called “The Fall Off.” I guess Cole’s predicting the quality drop of his music in the future. Just kidding. It serves as a diss to Lil Pump, and he slaughtered him. It was a pretty great way to close the album. It feels like a bonus track, but it’s dope af.
This album is great. Listeners who have complained about J. Cole being boring in the past will hopefully find a handful of entertaining tracks here. Not every song is gonna jump out as incredible, but it’s a solid effort. It’s dope.
Favorite Song: 1985
Least Favorite Song: The Cut Off
Listen to the podcast below for more thoughts on this album