J Cole shows real growth as he crafts a spellbinding piece of art ‘KOD’ | Album Review

“On his 5th album J Cole shows real growth” as he crafts a spellbinding piece of art that will make you smile and frown at the world today. Its seminal and urgent with its messaging without coming across as preachy. Check out my track by track review below.

‘KOD’ the title track sets the agenda with its impactful sonic sound. It’s the story of the come up which has Cole describing the climb from a trapper to rapper as he sings in the chorus “This is what you call a flip, ten keys from a quarter brick / Bentley from his mumma whip.” Its cloaked in that double edged sword as he goes onto describe that all that glitters aint gold. It’s his switching twang which makes you sit up & take notice.

‘Photograph’ is a thought provoking piece that ponders on searching for love in the digital age. It’s beautiful in its eloquence as he rams home the struggle of actually making a meaningful romantic connection through cyber space.  This is strikingly articulated as he spits “Puttin’ my heart in a click / Can’t see my heart it don’t fit / Don’t think I’m built for this shit / Too busy thinking what if.” The slow pacing easy going melody sets the day dream scene, which allows Cole flourish with his rapid intense rhymes schemes.

‘The Cut Off’ There’s that point in everyone’s life when you realise that there are folk who may be taking far more than they are giving. When you’re a young millionaire it’s goes through the roof with yes men at every turn. Cole, has experiences that he puts on blast as he raps “My heart is big, I want to give too much and usually / I send the bread and don’t hear back for two months now / You hit my phone, you need a loan, oh i’m a crutch now.” It’s Cole, being at his honest best which he does extremely well. Sonically it’s moody and expansive with delicious instrumentation that helps to colour the painstaking lyricism Cole displays.

‘ATM’ is a damning critique of the blind pursuit of riches without realising the soul stripping consequences. It’s the New wave trap sound and catchy chorus “count it up, Count it Up, count it.” that will attract the younger hip hop crowd and open them up to the wider message. It’s the music video that really rams home his point as Cole literally gives as arm & a leg for a fly whip. Hilarious but ultimately true in a metaphorical sense. This is sleeper hit for 2018 as Cole shows vocal range and bravery to address this topic.

‘Motiv8’ finds Cole Morphing between to rappers one who is internally affected by the life he’s living. His emotions are impressively sketched as he raps “Too many times I swallowed my pride I’m cracking a smile, I’m dying inside my demons are close, I’m tryin’ to hide”. In the second a more buoyant and evolved raps “Used to like bitches with hair permed / Now I like it natural, actual, factual” Naps and shit, bougie, still do ratchet shit.” The choppy beat cleverly the creates the back drop for the contrasting feelings of the rapper.

‘Kevin’s Heart’ tenderly touches on relationship issues that can be even more magnified when your an entertainer. Cole, sings the hook with a soulful experience. As he ruminates on his wrongs. Its heartfelt as he illustrates that soul searching that’s taking place “I love her, I don’t want to lose her, my ego gets stroked & I bruise her, my actions I know they confuse ya, at home I’m looking as usual, on the road I’m an addict a user.” The laid back melody helps create authenticity in this diary confession. Look out for the great comical video featuring Kevin Heart who can definitely relate to this.

‘Brackets’ A true stand out on the album. Finds Cole riffing about other less well known artists trying use him as spring board for success. The skit is hilarious when Cole is heard talking about his success & riches before taking a call from his uncle asking for half his money. Cole, critiques the use of our tax dollars before asking for a new way of having our voices heard politically like using our mobile phones to vote. This beat is masterful in its make up as it’s infused with a jazzy soul that conveys the moody introspection.

‘Once an Addict – Interlude’ a poignant reveal which depicts a difficult time in Cole’s young life as he spits “ Step daddy just had a daughter with another woman, momma ain’t recovered yet, calling me at 12 at night drunk as fuck & I’m upset / why she always using me for crutch / growing up I used to see her up.” It’s the Marvin Gaye type medley that makes this 2 minute ish intermission sadly haunting an extremely touching.

‘Friends (feat. KILL edward)’ is the open admission that Cole feels that we’re basically hiding from true selves through the use of drugs. The hook sung by kiLL edward honestly speaks the truth to this power “ I got thoughts, can’t control, got me down, got me low, rest my mind , rest my soul” in a scene were drugs are now glorified, Cole, makes a brave stand against the things that are destroying us. The beat is urgent whilst tinged with vibrancy.

There’s no hook on this and J Cole spits that fire whilst dropping jewel after jewel

‘Window Pain – Outro’ starts off with a child giving a heart aching account of a shooting of family member. This awful reveal allows Cole to talk about the dreams he held as a kid. As we know some don’t live to tell the tale with the innocence being ripped away from those who make it past 25 in American ghettos. The spellbinding production brings Coles words and descriptions to life.

1985 – Intro to ‘The fall off’ finds Cole in veteran mode as he charts his youthful exuberance & madcap behaviour. Empathetic to the young rappers now on the scene. He kicks game by giving wisdom about constant touring to make long term money. He questions the long term nature riding trends with music that’s currently being made. Cole raps “have you ever thought about your impact? These white kids love that you don’t give a fuck, because that’s exactly what’s expected when you don’t give a fuck / They wanna see you dab, they wanna see you pop a pill, they wanna see you tattooed from your face to your heels.” There’s no hook on this and J Cole spits that fire whilst dropping jewel after jewel.

Editor:  Adrian Rich

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