When April 20th rolled around, stoners and rap listeners celebrated one of two things. As if 420 wasn’t enough hype for the cannabis culture to smoke for 24 hours, the release of J Cole’s new album “K.O.D.” caused even more excitement for the rap culture. That’s because Cole hasn’t released an album since 2016.
The hype behind Cole’s album is not just the tracklisting or the artistic message of the album cover and acronym of “K.O.D.”, but the supposed diss tracks towards other rap artists, specifically the young rappers in today’s generation. Cole uses an experimental nature on his fifth album and exposes his most impactful lyrics through his interludes and outros.
To Cole, the acronym behind “K.O.D.” equates to kids on drugs, king overdosed and kill our demons. It’s safe to say the theme rising out of this album is the pain that makes people escape into drugs, alcohol, money, sex, social media and other vices. Cole’s album looks to sanctify and give off a warning when it comes to drugs but sounds a little hypocritical when he’s rapping about doing drugs himself. With today’s drug trend, we live in a society where drug use is normalized, especially for the young adults in today’s generation.
This leads to Cole waving his finger towards the generation of soundcloud rappers like Smokepurpp and Lil Pump, who encourage excessive and careless drug abuse. Not to mention, Lil Pump and Smokepurpp released a diss record called “f**k Cole” which they later stated was a trolling act to get Cole to react.
And best believe that following that troll act, Cole reacted back in the way we can expect he would. Cole raps, “I heard one of em’ diss me” which clearly means he’s referring to rappers Lil Pump and Smokepurpp. He goes on to say, “I ain’t trippin, listen good to my reply” and continues to paint a larger picture of the way rap has changed along with adding how unimpressed by the songs he is. Talk about a burn! Need ice with that burn Lil Pump and Smokepurpp?
Circling back to the drug trend, Cole’s album cover perfectly and deeply paints a cartoon-like theme of a doped out Cole surrounded by children partaking in a variety of drugs. Listening and delving deeper behind the story of his tracks, they are personal and impactful.
Cole’s track, “Once an addict,” turns out to be based on his mother’s struggles with alcoholism and Cole’s inability to help at the time because he was just a kid then.
When listening to tracks like “ATM,” he raps, “Life can bring so much pain, there are many ways to deal with this pain.” Further into this song, he says, “I know that it’s difficult
I’m stackin’ this paper, it’s sort of habitual,” which we can see as him referencing to money.
The song “Photograph,” reveals a true statement of today’s generation when Cole says, “Love today’s gone digital.” This track is clearly seen as referring to the social media infatuation of today, which is pretty much also called the addiction of the digital age.
Cole addresses youth and gun violence as well in tracks “Friends” and “Window pain – outro.” In “Friends” Cole says, “There’s all sorts of trauma from drama that children see,” which resonates with the track “Window pain – outro” when he says, “He had been shot right through the face, right in the neck and he got shot right in the stomach.” There’s some deep connection here.
Just like Jay-Z’s album “D.O.A.” (Death of Autotune) did a number on the second wave of autotune in the 2000’s, who knows what Cole’s words might do to the current wave of drug rappers like Smokepurpp, Lil Pump, Lil Yachty and Lil Xan.
Not being a huge fan of Cole, he deserves praise for returning to his roots and playing with a range of temptations in his tracks. However, after listening to the album, most tracks sounded alike in terms of beat flow rather than having a little bit more unique rhythms that sound different. Overall rating for “K.O.D.” deserves a B.