Jermaine Cole sits in an odd plateau. On one hand, he's arguably the most revered of raps seasoned vets, constantly feeding a fanbase that packs out stadium after stadium just to see Cole provide faithful and at times theatrical renditions of his quintuple platinum, no features back catalogue, yet still finds himself carving his niche amongst his peers and rap fans alike.
KOD, Cole's 5th album, finds the North Carolina rapper at his most meditative and conscious, a rare feat in raps current climate and it's mumble rap du jour. Seemingly eschewing the path of his contemporaries, watching as one time lesser artists like Kendrick and Drake rose to prominence under his nose, Cole has seasoned into a plateau of his own. To use a borrowed term, he's a B+ player.
Since 2013's Born Sinner, we've seen Cole move to narrative-driven and more profound subject matter. Forrest Hills Drive served as the story of his childhood, his time in "Fayette-Nam", 4 Yours Eyes Only his ode to mortality, a personified story of the ties that bind family, and how easily they can come undone due to street life. With KOD, and with the biggest respect to J Cole, we're bordering on agony aunt levels of disdain towards vices. This is an album that commits to hard-hitting commentary on vices, from its morbid depiction of addiction on the cover art and title track 'KOD' (tagged with the obvious 'this album is in no way intended to glorify addiction) to its commentary on vicarious social media lusting 'photograph', Infidelity 'Kevin's Heart' and the epidemic of mumble rap '1985' which is by far the albums high point, albeit it's final moment.
With 1985 serving as a precursor to a potential upcoming project The Fall Off, we hope can regain his form and consistency.
Cole on KOD:
"If I turn on the TV right now, it’s not going to be long before an advertisement pops up that says ‘are you feeling down? Have you been having lonely thoughts?’ And then they shove a pill in your face” the voice says of the Kids on Drugs title. The second meaning, King Overdose is representing me… the times that I was — and am —afflicted by the same methods of escape, whether it be alcohol, phone addiction, women… Lastly, Kill Our Demons represents breaking free of past trauma. That’s the end goal, to face our shit, realize we have some shit going on inside—everybody, I realized everybody family is fucked up because nobody is fucking perfect. Whether you want to or not, you’re going to fuck up your kids in some type of way, because you got fucked up in some type of way.. the plan is to fuck your kids up the least amount possible. The first response to any problem is medicate. Kill Our Demons is like, finding that shit, whether it be from traumatic childhood experiences, whether it be from a lack of attention, confidence issues, insecurities—whatever it is, we gotta be honest with ourselves. Look in the mirror or look inside and ask ourselves questions, like what’s causing me to run to this thing as an escape? And once I find the root of that, let me look it in its face an see what it really is."