J. Cole’s third studio album is a breath of fresh air that inspires hope for hip-hop going into 2015. Cole breaks barriers with this new release. The album dropped with no singles which is something the rapper hasn’t done before. After hearing the strength of the product it’s hard to see how one would even begin the process of trying to pick a single with so many great tracks. Cole is like an open book with this project, and each song reveals his growth.
2014 Forrest Hills Drive solidifies J. Cole’s position as a great story teller and lyricists. Throughout the album he tackles popular topics such as the state of hip-hop, cultural controversies, and demons of his own. The concept and theme of the album is portrayed well. The title of the album is the address of Cole’s childhood home and the songs reflect him reminiscing on growing up and coming back home now.
The intro to the album encompasses all of that. Cole asks “Do you want to be happy? Do you want to be free?,” and goes on talk about looking at how far he’s come. The best line from the intro has to be “they say that dreams come true and when they do it’s a beautiful thing.”
“Wet Dreamz”, “’03 Adolescence”, and “A Tale of 2 Citiez” are great examples of his ability to weave a story together over a beat. “Wet Dreamz details the story of his first time with the catchy hook “I ain’t never did this before” over a sped up sample of “Mariya” by Family Circle.
“’03 Adolescence” reveals thoughts and memories of growing up in Fayetteville. The best part about this track is the conversation Cole has with his friend who gives him a reality check and makes him grateful for what he has.
“A Tale of 2 Citiez” is a favorite off the album. The beat alone gets you hooked, and then the title plays into the song as it describes two different points of view of a robbery.
The next set of tracks are heavy-hitters on the project. In “Fire Squad” J. Cole takes the crown as the hottest artist and in the same song destroys the title. He blames rappers trying to out do each other and fight for a title is the reason why artists like Macklemore and Iggy Azalea can come in and steal “Album of the Year” awards. The song is a wake up call for hip-hop.
“St. Tropez” feeds into the next song on the track. It describes how at this point Cole has made it and is successful.
“G.O.M.D.” is definitely one of the best songs on the album, and one of the singles. J discusses issues with naysayers from his home town and sums up how he feels about thoughts on him “going Hollywood” in 4 words. There’s also insight to his relationship and his faithfulness, or lack of.
“No Role Modelz” would’ve made a great single for the album. The hook locks you in but there’s a lot of meaning in this track. Cole describes not having any role models to look up to, the lack of good relationships, and girls who are obsessed with living the life of women depicted in reality TV shows. “Fool me one time shame on you. Fool me twice, can’t put the blame on you. Fool me three times, f*** the peace sign, load the chopper, let it rain on you” in my opinion are the hottest lines of the song.
The album wraps up with what I like to call “sit back and think” tracks. The beats are a little slower but it allows you to focus on what he’s saying.
“Hello” seems to be an ode to someone in his past, and he’s telling them about where he’s at in life. The title seems fitting. He rhymes like he hasn’t talked to them in a long time. Cole also discusses the emotion that comes with reminiscing on certain things.
“Apparently” is the first single for the album. This and the album intro are the only songs with visuals so far. This is another standout track. Cole starts out pretty much saying he can say what he want. He’s so open and truthful in the first verse. He details the foreclosure of his childhood home as well as his relationship with his mother. The gist of the song is despite everything there’s still people that believe in him. It’s really beautiful and the video is minimalistic but made me love the song even more. Peep the video below:
“Love Yourz” and “Note to Self” wrap up the album. “Note to Self” also serves as the his “thank you’s” for those that were involved. The track is 14 minutes long but definitely worth listening to the whole thing at least once.
The album is solid and just what I needed. J. Cole is one of those artists that can put out bodies of work that somehow correlate with what’s going on in your life at the moment. There’s always something you can pick out in each song that speaks directly to you. The debate is whether the project holds up to Born Sinner. I can’t compare the two. They both serve different purposes and have different concepts. A lot has happened between the two albums. In my opinion the only thing different between Born Sinner and 2014 Forrest Hills Drive is more songs and features on the sophmore album. But 2014 Forrest Hills Drive wasn’t meant to do what Born Sinner did, and definitely shows that J. Cole can hold his own over an entire album. There’s a lot of artists you know you can’t listen to unless there’s a feature, and half the time the feature is why you’re listening in the first place.
The album is personal and real. Cole is so open and honest. I think the concept behind it is great and the timing for the project is perfect. There isn’t one song I can bring myself to skip over. Be sure to support and buy it (leak lovers)!