Rapper J. Cole tackles controversial subjects, impresses with surprise album “KOD”


Preston Hooker, Staff Writer

“Kids on Drugs,” “King Overdosed,” “Kill Our Demons.” According to rapper J. Cole, his new album “KOD” takes on all three of those meanings. While Cole has never been one to avoid controversial subjects, he uses this album more than any of his past to address problems he sees with hip-hop and the world in general.

Like his last two albums, “2014 Forest Hills Drive” and “4 Your Eyes Only,” “KOD” includes no features from other artists. The album was announced just four days before its release on April 20. Despite this, it immediately received record-breaking streams, breaking Spotify and Apple Music’s record for most album streams in the first 24 hours of its release, eclipsing the previous record set by Drake’s “Views.”

The intro track sets the tone for the album. It addresses that life brings pain to everyone, and there are multiple ways to deal with that pain. Cole’s main point echoes over and over throughout the intro: choose wisely.

On “KOD,” we get to hear J. Cole at his peak, with more emphasis on flow and production than any of his previous albums. The first song and title track, “KOD,” starts the album off with a bang, with Cole exploring many different flows.

Other standout tracks from the album include “Photograph,” “ATM,” “Motiv8,” and “Kevin’s Heart.” “Kevin’s Heart” is a very interesting song because it is a direct reference to comedian Kevin Hart and the fact that he admitted to cheating on his wife. Throughout the song, he compares the temptations of drug use and cheating and how he struggles to stay strong in his everyday life.

The lone “feature” on the album is kiLL Edward, which is Cole’s alter ego. For this persona, Cole changes his voice and seems to portray someone who easily gives in to his temptations, singing, “Gimme drink, gimme smoke, get me high, let me float.” This could also be interpreted as Cole’s demon, which would fit into one of the album titles “Kill Our Demons.”

On “Brackets,” J. Cole takes shots at America’s tax system, rapping “Maybe ’cause the tax dollars that I make sure I send get spent hiring some teachers that don’t look like them.” Cole is disappointed that he has to pay so much money in taxes, and he has no say in the use of those tax dollars.

Overall, I believe that this is J. Cole’s best and most complete project. It has a cohesive theme, amazing production, witty and relatable lyrics and catchy flows. There’s not much more that you can ask for out of a modern hip-hop album from a genuine superstar.