BP #32: "Instant Classic"- J COLE 2014 Forest Hill Drive REVIEW
I know what you are thinking. This album came out two months ago. Why review it now? Well the easy answer is that it was just that good. I couldn’t stop listening to it. The long answer is that I wanted to write this since I heard the intro. But I knew I had to wait. I knew to write a full review I had to indulge in every word, every verse. And now, its time.
The intro to the album does its job. It sets the tone for the ride we are about to go on. It talks about our quest for happiness, and what they actually means. It also tells us to think about where we came from, and where we are. These themes run rampant over the album, along with many others.
2. January 28th
The real is back. Never have words been more true. On this track, Cole lets it loose about all the issues we have been facing in the world. From Ferguson to the price of black lives, Jermaine talks about it all, and shares his opinion. As he continues through his verses he talks about family, friends, dreams, and broken societies. Its a very real song with great verses, and undeniable importance in our world.
3. Wet Dreamz
THIS COULD BE MY FAVORITE. Its a close race between this song and track #5 because each brings Cole at his best. J uses his ridiculously polished skill of storytelling to paint a great picture of losing his virginity. The words are precise. The feelings are relatable. The beats on point. This song has ever makings of a classic. And if my iTunes top played says anything, it already is.
4. 03’ Adolescence
J Cole brings his skills over story telling over to this track. The songs talks about how he was told that he was looked up by one of his friends, the same friend he looked up to. You then see the bleak reality and dark future of one of Cole’s friends. Its a deep track with special meaning for ones who have struggled. Great job Cole.
5. A Tale of 2 Citiez
This. Song. Is. Not. Fair. From a production standpoint, you can’t get much better. With the overlay of beats with man made sounds, the backdrop for the verses is unmatched. Which leads me into the verses. J Cole delivers some pretty unreal verses in this song, transporting us into his world. This, paired with a good singing bridge, makes this my stand out track of the album.
6. Fire Squad
J Cole goes control on this track, calling out everyone from Iggy, to Justin Timberlake, and Kendrick. But its not your classic diss track. J Cole calls out everyone for fighting over the crown of hip pop instead of worrying about the state of hip hip in general.
7. St. Tropez
Of all the songs on the album, St. Tropez is my least favorite, and still I can appreciate it for its genius. Documenting the times of a young man trying to make it hollywood. It talks about the hardships he faces, and the choices he makes. Cole talks about it being hard for him to smile after everything that has happened in his life. Overall, the song will always be considered one of the weaker tracks, but since its on such a great album, all is forgiven.
I’m going to be honest. The lines in this song have integrated themselves into my life. I find myself saying ‘Hollywood Cole” a few times a day, and when someone pisses me off, I can pretty much sing the entire song. But this song also explores dreams of the future. Talking about women, power, and money, J Cole shines on this track. The old school beats paired with his fresh lyrics make for a stand out track.
9. No Role Modelz
My favorite opening line of a song rest on this track. I can relate to growing up without a father, which is why I think this influenced me right off the bat. But the song really stands out to me because of Cole’s undying honesty. Cole, always a champion of telling the truth, holds nothing back on this track, creating for a fun ride. But because its J, the message is still loud and clear.
Cole slows down the beat for this track. Speaking to a forgotten lover, he talks about the possibility of them getting back together. He talks about her kids, his current life as a superstar, and their past. Its a very sweet song that will touch your hearts unspoken ways.
Apparently, J Cole was reading my mind when he wrote this song (I'm bad at puns). But really, every word of this song allows me to make parallels to my own life, especially when talking about his mother. I think it's natural for people who come from household where money was always the issue to worry about their parents back home. For me, its my mother, just like Cole. The genius shines once more on a relatable track.
12. Love Yourz
We could take lessons from Love Yourz. I can’t tell you how many times a day I wish for something better. Cole reminds us that just the fact that we are alive, is enough to live. He also teaches us that its always through struggles that the greatest triumphs are born. And coming from Cole, someone who has made it, it reaches deep into my soul.
13. Note to Self
Cole closes out his album with this great look into what he is all about. His fans. His people. His mom. And its production is still top tier, even if it is just the credits. Thats just how Cole works. Everything he puts his name on has to be perfect to him. Whether it be a single, an album, the album credits, everything needs to be great.
And on this album he succeeds in making an instant classic.