Cole surprised everyone by dropping his third album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive with only a couple of weeks notice. Definitely a pleasant surprise for fans and a sluggish industry itself, here are five relatively quick takeaways after listening/reviewing 2014 Forest Hills Drive.
1) J. Cole Is Underrated
First things first, it’s not that J. Cole isn’t popular or respected. That said, even after three sound albums, J. Cole remains underrated. Maybe it’s the fact that there’s a lack of flashiness or ornateness, but Cole is one of the best MCs of the day. He can flat out spit and often shares his intellect throughout his rhymes. Sure, f-bombs don’t exactly showcase Cole as the Magna cum Laude college graduate that he is, but his wordplay and pop cultural and social references certainly shows his mental gifts.
2) He’s A Masterful Storyteller
Cole knows how to deliver a narrative – he is a master storyteller, period. Just look at the crème de la crème joint “Wet Dreamz,” where Cole delivers a realistic, descriptive tale about being a virgin in the process of losing his virginity. The track, coupled with its soulful production via sample, keeps the listener engaged from start to finish. Similarly, both “03’ Adolescence” and even more so “A Tale of 2 Citiez” deliver captivating tales.
3) He Keeps It Real
“Wet Dreamz” is a prime example of the realness spit by J. Cole, as he tackles head-on how many guys lie about their virginity (“…Talking sh*t knowing damn well I was a virgin”). He’s honest about insecurities on “03’ Adolescence” (“I wish I won’t so shy, I wish I was a bit more fly”), while on “Fire Squad” he takes shots at white musicians, semi-jokingly (“While silly n*ggas argue over who gon’ snatch the crown / look around, my n*gga, white people have snatched the sound).” Unapologetic, it’s safe to say it like the rappers do – J. Cole “gives no f*cks.”
4) He’s Incredibly Consistent
There are no misses to be found in the least on 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Seriously, every song contributes to the greatness of the project. Yeah, everyone has their favorites, but still, there are no misses. But just examine both of Cole’s albums prior to this one, and consistency is definitely the M.O.
5) He Has a Great Sense of Humor/Big Personality
On close “Note To Self,” J. Cole has the most fun he has the entire album. He delivers his gratitude (aka Thank Yous) to everybody and their brothers in nothing short of epic fashion. Yeah, maybe 15 minutes is excessive, but if you stick with Cole, you can’t help but to get sucked in by his huge personality and great sense of humor.
Ultimately, J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive is among the best albums of the year – rap or otherwise. Don’t sleep on Cole – he’s the real deal.
Must Spin: “Wet Dreamz”