It’s Still Cole’s World
May 3, 2018
J. Cole, a German-American rapper, released his fifth studio album on April 20 titled KOD. With a rap career spanning over seven years, Cole has accumulated one Billboard and four BET awards. With only a few hours of notice before its release, KOD has taken over the charts.
Cole broke a Spotify first-day streaming record on the day of the album’s release, logging more than 36.5 million streams. His track ATM has been streamed more than 42.5 million times alone. Three of the album’s 12 tracks have made it in the Top 10. Each song tells a captivating story of the different forms of addiction and how they have all played a role in Cole’s life. From alcoholism and drug abuse to infidelity, each track paints a vivid picture of the struggles he has witnessed.
With the release of his Kevin’s Heart music video, viewers witness the consequences of infidelity and the lingering temptations from the point of view of comedian Kevin Hart. Since he admitted to cheating on his pregnant wife last year, the infamous Hart has rightfully faced criticism and hardships. The video shows a day in his life, narrated by Cole’s raps. Scott Lazer, the director of the video, said, “With Kevin’s Heart, [J. Cole] knew what he wanted to do. I think Kevin Hart was an interesting example because what he did was wrong, what he did was bad, but it wasn’t violent, it wasn’t something that’s reprehensible and he and his family worked it out, you know? Or seem to have. But still he was subject to ridicule.” The personal, intimate stories are only part of what makes Cole unique.
Cole has reached the top without using features in his music, which is what sets him aside from others in the rap game. So, seeing a feature from an unknown artist by the name of kiLL edward in the title track came as a shock to most fans. That was, until the feature was revealed to be Cole’s alter-ego. He argues, “how come you won’t get a few features, I think you should? How bout I don’t.”
According to The Guardian, “this is an album on which Cole sets himself up as the conscience of mainstream hip hop. It’s clearly the stuff of which vast controversy is made.” Looking at modern rap, songs rarely focus on serious subjects such as death and injustice. Cole’s work is unique because he isn’t afraid to tackle other issues in his music. He talks about the heartbreaking effects of alcoholism and gun violence. He uses his voice to bring attention to the real problems plaguing the world.
The New York Times said this about Cole: “He unites his audience against bogeymen like taxes, or the government, or a new generation of rappers. If you agree that those things are unequivocally bad, you might be willing to listen when he tells you what not to do.” Cole keeps his fans coming back because often, they agree with what he is trying to convey. His ideas and opinions connect with listeners.
The album’s tracks maintained their positions on the charts until Post Malone’s recent release of his second album, Beerbongs and Bentleys. After the incredible success of 4 Your Eyez Only and 2014 Forest Hills Drive, KOD has made its mark. The album is sure to continue the prosperity of Cole’s career.