By: Jabril Titus
When it comes to hip hop, there have always been a few conscious rappers that were fulfilling the needs of many listeners. By “conscious,” I mean rappers who were fully aware of the corruption, manipulation, and injustice of the world.
Rappers such as Common, Talib Kweli, Q-tip, and Lupe Fiasco, just to name a few, chose to use their social statuses to enlighten their fans on what has been overlooked for the past several years.
Jermaine Cole, also known by his stage name J.Cole, released a new album titled “2014 Forrest Hills Drive” on Dec. 9, 2014. He has now become a well known conscious rapper, as well. Cole was able to sell a number one album in his first week without any promotions or singles. According to Billboard projections, the album grossed $354,000 in his first week. This is Cole’s third number one album but most successful one to date.
- Intro- “Intro” starts the album off with a dreamy drop back as the beat begins to build. In a mumbling voice, Cole continuously asks, “Do you want to be happy?” This song is a bit different from his others. He uses a spoken word sense of style to convey his point. “Intro” is meant to portray a longing of freedom. He’s reflecting on the way how things used to be and how they are now.
- January 28- January 28 is the day of Cole’s birthday. The beat is sort of a continuation of “Intro” but more developed. This song is a wake-up call to black men in general. He wants people to understand that most rappers fans try to imitate are living a fictitious life. Cole warns his listeners to take control of their own actions. He says if you believe in God, then you should aim high and not low.
- Wet Dreamz- Cole refers to the time when he had sex for the first time. He was only 14 at the time admitting that he didn’t know much about sex but pretended so he wouldn’t look like a lame. In return the young girl he became intimate was too a virgin.
- 03’/Adolescence- Cole reflects on his younger years of life. He speaks about the hard troubles he had while growing up and how he looked up to a friend who in return wanted to be just like him. Cole shows that you should always want to be yourself, and if you don’t like the person you are at the moment become the person you want to be.
- A Tale of Two Citiez- Names after a novel by Charles Dickens, this particular story takes place during the French Revolution and reflects the major themes of rebellion, confliction between rich and poor, and political consciousness. Through this story, he connects two major cities in his life, New York and Fayetteville, which were also predominantly the two main cities in Dickens’ novel.
- Fire Squad- This song is very important not only in hip-hop but black culture as a whole. Cole expresses that white entertainers robbed a lot of blacks for the only sacred thing they had to themselves which was music. He used a few white artists who are categorized as rappers such as: Eminem, Iggy Azalea, and Macklemore.
- St. Tropez- Named after the city in France, St. Tropez is speaking about how Cole rose to fame. He’s pulling us through his journey to fame. This beat is sampled by Mobb Deep’s Give Up The Goods.
- G.O.M.D- This track is somewhat a letter to his competitors and the people back at his hometown in N.C. He’s basically arguing for a common ground. While many may think he changed and went “Hollywood” he’s proclaiming that he remained the same.
- No Role Modelz- Cole reflects on his early childhood life and claims there were not and are not any role models. They are either rapping or dribbling a ball. To be clear, there are black men who can be considered role models, but in all honesty the chances of them being projected and glamorized is at an all-time low. He raps about how “Uncle Phil,” from the 90s television show, was his only father figure.
- Hello- Through this song, Cole reaches out to an old girl he used to be intimate with. He’s reflecting on the times they shared and for the moment he wants to rekindle what they had. He then finds out that she started a new life and there’s no “looking back.”
- Apparently- Cole reflects on his wrong doings and working on becoming a better person, because apparently someone believes in him. He has come to the realization that he has more to learn in life, and it’s becoming clearer now.
- Love Yourz- In this song, Cole claims there is no life better than yours. This goes to say your life is special and you should cherish it. As quoted before, “There’s no you like you.”
- Note to Self- Cole spends a hefty amount of time giving thanks to his whole team and record labels for 14 minutes and 35 seconds. He lets it be known that this would be his last album with Columbia Records. Jermaine also states that the album sales are humbling and he’s just appreciate of the opportunity to make music.
This album was definitely one of my favorites of 2014. This album was needed and hopefully this would change the platform of hip-hop and the rappers to come. It is time that we have musicians who talk about things we as a generation can relate to.