J. Cole’s KOD was released at the end of April and, according to the North Carolina rapper, the title stands for three things: kids on drugs, king overdosed, kill our demons.
We see a bit of each theme throughout the album, though they are not mutually exclusive. J. Cole raps about him and his friends smoking way too much weed for their own good and experimenting with other drugs that are highly popularized in hip-hop culture like LSD, codeine or “lean”, cocaine, and of course, the selling and dealing of these drugs.
By far the most emotional track on the album is “Once an Addict- Interlude”– seriously, every single J. Cole interlude makes me wish it was the length of an entire song. It begins with a female voice, “pain is just a lack of understanding… God must feel no pain. Does this mean even our suffering pleases him?” she says in a monotonous voice.
Throughout the album we hear this voice that acts as the drug-fueled musings of young Jermaine, and here, he’s exploring the logic and reasoning behind God and suffering.
From there, he jumps into his adolescent life, riddled with recreational drug use and underaged drinking while his mother “uses him as a crutch” as she deals with alcoholism, heartbreak, and racism while raising J. Cole on her own.
Of course, it would not be a J. Cole album without some satirical, borderline offensive, musings, like in Kevin’s Heart, where Jermaine pokes fun at millennial dating culture and the comedian’s public infidelity.
In this track, J. Cole raps in great detail and admiration about Xanax, cannabis, and money, but all he says about his cucked-partner is that she has a diploma, and is wifey material. Very typical.
KOD is riddled with the arrogance that comes with J. Cole’s taking of the throne– kiLL edward is the only “feature” on the album, which is Jermaine’s voice pitched up. He tries to direct his loved ones and members of rap culture to the moral high ground that he stands on.
There’s a few bangers, like ATM (“big bills, big bills, I fell in love with big wheels and quick thrills” has been a club favorite), but otherwise, is almost a dense listen, in that it’s highly lyrical and the production isn’t flashy.