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Album Review: J. Cole’s KOD

Jeda Lee, Staff Writer

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North Carolina rapper Jermaine Cole, best known as J. Cole, has finally released his fifth studio album. The record, titled K.O.D, dropped on April 20, 2018, and promptly broke Apple Music’s 24 hour streaming record; surpassing Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.” It is obvious that this was a much anticipated album, although he only made the album’s presence known four days prior to the drop.

According to Cole, K.O.D. has three different meanings: Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed and Kill Our Demons. The obvious theme of the album is addiction and everything that surrounds it.

The album starts with “Intro”, which is exactly what the title implies. With a jazzy trumpet providing most of the beat, Cole hovering in the background and two women talking. This song is nothing more than an intro, nothing to give and nothing to take.

The next song is “KOD,” a departure from Cole’s normal flow, this song makes you want to nod and bounce. The end of the song brings back one of the women from “Intro,” listing off major drugs heard in this generation of new rap ending with “And the strongest drug of them all, love.”

“Photograph” comes next on the album, this song is about love and how social media plays a role. With lines like “Fell in love through a photograph, I don’t even know your name. Wonder if you’d follow back…Love today’s gone digital and it’s messing with my health.” This song accurately captures how this new age of social media makes it easy to fall in love with someone’s social media presence.

“ATM,” while being quite repetitive is one of the best songs production wise. The beat and vibe of this song is unmatched. Going along with the addiction theme Cole says “Will I fall? Will I fly? Heal my soul, fulfill my high.” This song highlights how greed and addiction are connected.

Another major song on the album is “Kevin’s Heart” a play on comedian Kevin Hart’s name. The theme is still very present, this song highlights love and addiction. “She my number one, I don’t need nothing on the side.” Cole hits on hurting the one he loves and temptations. Going back to addiction Cole says, “Slip me a xanny at once, I got the earth in a blunt.” The one lyric of the song that sticks the most is, “I’m an addict, I’m masking it (Kevin’s Heart).”

“BRACKETS” is started with someone talking about show business. Cole’s voice comes in high pitched and distorted, “Lord knows I need something to fill this void.” Cole hits some major points in this song about racism, the school system, the government and the tax system. A powerful song with a powerful message, one of the best on the album.

“Once An Addict (Interlude)” hits on exactly what the title says. He talks about his personal life and his mother’s alcoholism. While being an interlude, this song took a deep and personal turn. We get an inside look of how addiction has directly affected Cole.

Overall, this album hits on important topics that are becoming more prevalent in this day in age, and Cole does a good job of delivering it. This is not an album to just listen to for the story but for the wisdom Cole spits out track after track. With fast and sometimes slow deeper movements, this album talks about things that many mainstream rappers stray away from. This time Cole won’t go platinum without features but he delivered a complex album that will win awards regardless. In the words of Anthony Fantano, this album is a slight 7.5/10.

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Album Review: J. Cole’s KOD