Album review - J.Cole - 2014 Forest Hills Drive

So it's been a long time since I last posted anything up here and truth is I am beyond jaded with this thing called hip-hop. I see the independent submissions and they can be good but a lot of the time it's not exciting enough to give me that need to write something. Now hip-hop is getting somewhat interesting right now between beefs and label strife but what brings me back is NC-17 who asked my feelings on the guy i'm calling the new Lupe, J. Cole. See much like Lupe, Cole has a ridiculous hardcore following who loves him and a bunch of other people who shrug at the mention of his name. This time Cole seems to be going back to underground type roots with his new album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

The album actually starts off pretty strong but let me speak on "Wet Dreamz" which is that first time for a teenage boy trying to get into some cheeks for the first time. It seems like the perfect kind of single for Cole much better than the joint he dropped with Trey off of the Sideline Story. "03 Adolesence" is kind of the same aiming to speak directly to a younger generation about what is going on and through their minds at that age. It gets into a deeper conversation about the street dude Cole was cool with letting a young Jermaine know that his future was the one they should all be striving for and not to fall victim to small quick money.

"Fire Squad" and "A Tale of Two Citiez" are actually throwbacks to the gritty NY feel of production and rap of the late 90's. The refrain in "Tale" is catchy and perfect for the whip and Fire Squad is the older school prove you can spit track. Now, the chorus is kind of wack though. This track is getting all of it's talk about the 'call out' of white rappers which is overblown like Kendrick's control verse being called a diss.

Now "No role Modelz" is to those chicks who are superficial and caught up in the image game. It's alright but not as good as some of the other tracks. "G.O.M.D." is also another generic misstep that is extra skippable for me. Some folks will like the smooth laid back "St. Tropez" but I'm not going to be searching for that one. "Hello" confuses me but I have a feeling the young hipsters will love it.

"Love Yourz" is about self love and is a message to the people to embrace what they have more than they do and find the beauty in it and not get caught up in trying to chase the newest and greatest thing. January 28th is a solid track with a soul backing as well.

Overall Cole has solidified himself as the new Lupe to me. He has talent and skills and the ability to come at things from a different perspective at times, but the most you're going to get from him is 3 really good songs and the others he is going to let his arrogance feed him and the music isn't going to be it's very best. The album  has a good sound, the production is straight but he is too in love with it at times and the song construction can sometimes limit what the potential of the song is like "Hello". The songs that are the best are the ones which include some sort of emotional component which is why anything about his teenage years works well but much like a CW show you can sort of feel that they are superficial on one hand, but truly real on the other. Much like anything from Cole, I end up overly bored at some point and I can't pinpoint what he could do to fix that.

Rating: 2.5/5


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