KOD: J Cole’s Lyrical Take on Modern Hip-Hop Trends

I’m a fan of J Cole. I’m not going to lie. I’m not one of those fans people joke about on social media, but he’s genuinely one of my favorite rappers. Among the ranks of Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, and the A$AP Mob, and Drake, J Cole’s lyricism and humble-relatable approach to hip-hop make his music easy to visualize, it’s often easy to relate to, and for the most part, can be a conversation starter. I like to consider J Cole “comfort hip-hop” (a play on the phrase “comfort food”). While most rappers can make music you can kick back to, most hip-hop albums are filled with hype records, whether it’s good or bad. Whenever J Cole drops a new project, as a fan I know I’m going to need to take time out of my day to listen to it and fully receive what’s being brought to me. 

I’m not the only one who’s had to do this. According to reports, KOD is currently the number one album in the country and became the most streamed album in 24 hours with over 65 million streams, breaking a record previously held by Drake’s last album, Views. The album within the first week of its release has been getting critically acclaimed reviews and has sparked the much-needed discussion on hip-hop culture and the consist reference and need for drug use. This new approach J. Cole has with this album has brings old-school hip-hop fans and new school, modern hip-hop fans together as he discusses drug use, mental health, the hip-hop generational gap that seems to be the spotlight for the past few years. 

While 4 Your Eyez Only was much more mellow and laid back, KOD tackles hard topics with the hottest hip-hop musical trends and flows. With beats and delivery similar to those of Migos, 21 Savage, Cardi B, Gucci Mane, we start to hear a more club side to J. Cole for the first half of the album. Then for the second half f the album, Cole gives us his signature sounds; even on the last song he eloquently addresses rap star Lil’ Pump (who dissed J. Cole) and telling how to stay successful in the hip-hop game. Even with his current music videos, you’re able to see the versatility in J. Cole; in “ATM” you see the more of Cole’s animated side and the influences of Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, and Nicki Minaj in the video. In "Kevin’s Heart", which stars Kevin Hart, J. Cole brings his signature delivery yet has a more theatrical approach; the video is an example of art, imitating life, imitating art. 

J. Cole’s latest project takes on issues of drug use, but it goes further than that. He takes an opportunity to display his views on the current state of hip-hop. He also reminds us that whether it’s drugs, relationships, money, or any aspect of materialism, it all boils down to the choice, and everything we use to cover up our pains will eventually heighten our problems. I highly suggest everyone take a listen to KOD and immerse yourself in social commentary J. Cole has offered.