In a music industry over-saturated with talk of selling drugs, bad bitches, spending money, living lavishly, and lots of pretending, 2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole is a refreshing hip-hop gem. The album is named after Cole’s childhood home address, which had previously been foreclosed on(J. Cole recently went and purchased the home back for his mom). The album features 13 songs with no guest appearances, which speak volumes for Cole’s artistry. The album was released with no promotion and no lead single. This in it of itself is daring, but Cole is risk taker so I expect this from him. The beauty of J. Cole is that he never attempts to be something that he is not, he is himself at all times. He never tries to fit into what everyone else in the industry is doing. This quality is what makes me love J. Cole.
2014 Forest Hills Drive is Cole’s third and dare I say best offering thus far. The album is very self-reflective, socially conscious, and very honest. On January 28(Cole’s birthday) he takes us on a journey through his early life and his ascent in the music industry. On, Wet Dreamz, he tells the very real story of losing his virginity. He masterfully captures the angst and insecurity we all experienced when we lost our virginity. On 03′ Adolescence, Cole details his deepest thoughts as an up and coming MC in NY. The most touching part of this song is when he details a conversation with a friend that sells drugs, in which he discovers that his friend actually looks up to him for going to school and not taking the path that he took. A Tale of 2 Citiez, is named after a James Dickens novel, Cole masterfully juxtaposes his own Fayetteville and New York. On Fire Squad he raps about Caucasians people appropriating black culture for their own gain, which interestingly enough has been going on since forever. He also dissects the whole “King” of rap debate, and succinctly ends the whole debate by stating that he and all his rap counterparts are all “Kings”. The mood of the album shifts with St. Tropez,
name after St. Tropez, France which is normally associated with fame and fortune. The song is either about a relationship or Cole’s apprehension about accepting his new-found fame and fortune.
On, G.O.M.D(Get Off My Dick), Cole raps about losing himself is his new-found fame and fortune. His lyrics vividly capture his inner struggle with trying to fit into what sells vs his truth. Luckily for us he decides to live in his truth. No Role Modelz picks up where the last track leaves off and Cole looks back on his life and discovers that there were no real role models for him growing up except rappers,ball players, and Uncle Phil(Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). On Hello, Cole calls up an old flame hoping to rekindle a relationship only to discover that she has started new life. He reflects on how his life would have been had he stayed with her. On Apparently, he reflects on wrong decisions he made is his life namely, letting his mom’s home go into foreclosure when he had the means to help her out. This is one of my favorite tracks from the album. Love Yourz, is my favorite song from this album. With lines like “No such thing as a life that’s better than yours” and ” Think being broke was better” we discover that J. Cole is wise beyond his years. It takes many people a lifetime to discover that money alone does not make you happy, love and happiness are much more important. This song is the full circle moment of the album. Note To Self, Cole leaves us with some finals sentiments, which are love one another and everything else will fall into place. It also serves as Cole’s time to thank each and every person that was part of the album.
I think 2014 Forest Hills Drive is J. Cole’s Thriller(Michael Jackson)/Blueprint(Jay-Z)/ Illmatic(Nas). This album is one cohesive body of work. It tells a story of a young man trying to find himself in an industry that many have lost themselves in. It’s amazing to see Cole’s progression as an artist and as a man. This album would be 5 mics worthy if The Source magazine was still a creditable source. This album is contender for best rap album at the 2016 Grammys(it was released to late to be eligible for the 2015 Grammys). If you love real hip-hop then you need to add this album to your collection. I absolutely love this album and can’t stop playing it from beginning to end with no skips.
As always form your own opinion about music and in general, but you would be a fool not to listen/purchase to this album.
Final Rating 5/5
Whut say you?