Wall-to-Wall Wednesday: J. Cole 2014 Forest Hills Drive (Album Review)
Its here; J. Cole's second offerering to the music community. Yesterday, December 9th, Cole World released his anticipated album entitled 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Much talk surrounded the album considering he didn't release any prior singles from it. J. Coles aim with this album was to bring it back to his roots; he purchased his old home in North Carolina and named this album after the address. This an album that is very close to Cole's heart, and it shows.
Being a J. Cole fan I will try to be as unbiased as possible as I give you this track-by-track review. Check it out below.
Intro: Cole comes in much different on this intro compared to Born Sinner's intro track. He's singing but it almost sounds like a crying type of singing. It's a very emotional song and one that you probably won't be replaying that much unless you enjoy crying alone in your room. With all that said it is a solid intro and definitely sets the mood for this project. You can tell J. Cole put his heart in this one. 8/10
January 28th: The intro transitions perfectly into this song which has a soft sample and a baseline and kick that you will feel in your chest. Cole's first bar "the real is back" lets you know this ain't no radio rap. Sure enough Cole delivers on this song, giving us solid bars and even throwing some shots at some fellow rappers (Kendrick and Drake). "Nigga you ain't the God, Cole the God" Definitely a standout track. If you liked Friday Night Lights, you'll rock with this one. 9/10
Wet Dreamz: One of my least favorite songs on the album. The melody and beat is fire, but it's kind of awkward to hear a grown man recount his first sexual encounters in rap form. This might have worked for Cole back in his "Warm up" days but 2014 Cole shouldn't have put this song on his album. Definitely mixtape material. Nonetheless, the song isn't trash. 7/10
'03 Adolescence: First and foremost, I love the production on this track. It's reminiscent of an early nineties hip-hop song which make sense considering Cole is reminiscing on his adolescence. J Cole's story telling is on point on this song as usual. I'm not too fond of the hook but overall this a solid track. Cole's verses are near flawless, and overall the song has a real classic feel. 8.5/10
A Tale of 2 Citiez: This has been the track I have been running back the most; Mostly because the beat is insanely hard, but also because Cole rides it so well (pause). I love how Cole can take a seemingly turn-up beat and make it thought provoking. I'm glad he's able to stay true to himself while making that music you can turn up to. The sub on this one is insane, great song to blast in the whip. "Even if you let em kill your dreams, it'll haunt you nigga" 9/10
Fire Squad: This is the song I've heard most people discussing. This is almost like J. Cole's equivalent to Kendrick Lamars control verse. He goes off, bars are on point, and he's here to make a statement. The braggadocios vibe from J. Cole on this one is rarely seen from the humble rapper, but is awesome to hear. This song is sure to be a fan favorite for hip hop fanatics. It has that classic boom bap sound and some hard bars. Cole definitely didn't miss with this one. "Aint no way around it no more, I am the greatest. Alotta niggas set on the throne, I am the latest" 10/10
St. Tropez: I almost see this as an interlude. It kind of breaks up the album. Definitely has a good vibe, not really a fan of J. Cole crooning, but it works I guess. Smooth track, would've love to hear some bars on this though. The last 30 seconds of the song though are amazing as a saxophone solo takes the track out so smoothly. 7/10
G.O.M.D. : Honestly, this song is near perfect. First let me start with the production; the sample sounds almost like a slave hymn chopped up with 808's and orchestral strings, and it came out awesome. Sometimes it sounds a little overproduced, but it still works. Secondly, the song concept is great; the hook is ignorant but very relatable. The one part where I feel Cole kind of fell short is in the verses. Don't get me wrong, the bars are tough but the consistency throughout and the singing/crying parts ruin it for me. Love the song, just wish he would've left the singing out on this one. 9/10
No Role Modelz: Solid song. Could definitely hear this on the radio. The concept fits Cole perfect; small town guy meets big city with bad Hollywood chicks. He goes on to say he knows the difference between LA sisters and LA hoes. Wouldn't be surprised if this ends up becoming a single. 8.5/10
Hello: Easily the worst song on the album. I feel like he was channeling Chance the Rapper on this song. The singing/crying made an appearance again, only it doesn't work on this song in my opinion. Overall, there is a total of 8 rapping bars on this song, and they are all forgettable. This song wasn't a horrible attempy by J. Cole but could've been left off the album. 5/10
Apparently: Following my least favorite song on the album comes one of my favorites. Apparently, is a song dedicated to his mother and is a real feel good song. Production is super fluid and his singing works perfect for it. He ends the song with a 16 bar verse that contains some really hard metaphors. I love this song because it feels very natural and not forced. "Cole is your phone on zero percent, going off" 9.5/10
Love Yourz: Cole follows Apparently with another great song, Love Yourz. This song is like anti-depression medication for someone who hates their life. Cole sings the powerful words "No such thing as a life thats better than yours... love yours" This is another track with some classic and timeless sounding production. You got to respect Cole for sticking to his lane and making music that is uniquely his sound. 9/10
Note to Self: This song makes for a nice outro, I just wish it was longer (minus the audio credits recited by Jermaine Cole himself). Cole must really love singing now a days because he's also singing on this one, he is accompanied by other voices which makes a nice harmony. I imagine a bunch of people dressed in choir attire holding hands and singing this. 8/10
Final Rating: 8.3/10
Cole has a really good album on his hands with 2014 Forest Hills Drive. He created a very timeless sounding album in an industry that is flooded by one hit wonders and rushed albums. Great Job Jermaine. Cole World.