KOD is exactly what it says it is. But it doesn’t spell it out for you.
Addiction is a funny thing. A sad juxtaposition of pleasure and pain that artists have all tired of trying to capture. But…This album is a debut. A complete and utter unveiling of what it means to momentarily escape. Fame, Lean, Love, choose your vice. Coupling the music with the artwork courtesy of young Kamau Haroon was a massive boost for the message. It’s clear the project was collaborative and inspiring to both men.
He waxes poetic on fiends and fame. Present are the political tones, if not a little muted. But…”Fuck did you expect?… Blame it on Trump. Blame it on Clinton.” Thankfully Cole manages to low-key digress and still maintain a single focus on KOD. This is not an expose, these are experiences. Experiences the artist still hasn’t quite decided on. The spotlight of this struggle is on “ATM”, even going so far as to be first single on the album. It feels hollow in it’s glorification of the struggle, perhaps right on message.
Ultimately the tracklist alternates between harsh and understanding. It may be on the listener to qualify for themselves how they feel about what they see in his reflection. This may have been the goal of the anonymity of the title, and the album as a whole. I have no doubt we’ll feel differently about it not just person to person, but listen to listen.
Most of the expected influences are present. It’s dripping with upper-tier cultural pillars; Kanye’s melancholy tiptoes around, Kendrick shadows each kiLL edward feature, and Outkast may as well have performed “FRIENDS”.
Breifly, is the Richard Pryor drop a cheap laugh? I can’t tell if it is further commentary on addiction or a misplaced crutch. It seems like it could easily be either, but probably not both. Regardless, you’ll know the bit well because it leads into “BRACKETS“, a soulful withdrawal that gets more impactful with each listen. While other scenes feel well-woven, regretfully the admiration of Richard feels forced. Mostly the cut-aways are very valuable to the theme as small breaks that give the audience time to reflect and not have to bear witness for a moment. You’ll appreciate it.
As a whole, it is not for the common fan. It’s not for the Forest Hills Drive lovers. It’s certainly a long way from the adolescent scene in Friday Night Lights. The album will lull you to sleep like an opiate and slap you awake like a bump. The pieces by Sixmau have similar effects. On the surface there’s the same ol’ J.Cole, but now gone are the juvenile topics. Gone is the childish reverence for drug culture. This is never more obvious than the outro “Window Pain“. Quietly he reflects on being 18 and at 35 he claims survival. He is centered. Focused on his estimation of himself and his influences. If not sober, this is an honest and objective J. Cole.
This album is in no way intended to glorify addiction.
Final Word: To sum up our analysis, watch the video below featuring Darius.