Written By: Jes, The Nomadic
In the height of societal chaos J.Cole delivered a 13-track gem with the release of his third album, titled 2014 Forest Hills Drive, an ode to his childhood home in Fayetteville, North Carolina. If ever there was uncertainty of Jermaine, despite the success of his freshman and sophomore album, his third effort eradicates any doubt. A highly personal album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive is a testament to J.Cole’s incline as both a lyricist and producer.
2014 Forest Hills Drive boasts no features, which is new for J.Cole, who has had past success in collaborations with the likes of Jay Z, Missy, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and TLC. However, the lack of collaboration doesn’t keep Cole from mentioning his contemporaries. He professes he’s the God in comparison to hip-hop greats Slick Rick, Rakim, LL Cool J, and Big Daddy Kane on “January 28th.” Equally, “Fire Squad” has been the topic of discussion as Cole seemingly takes target of Eminem, Iggy Azalea, Macklemore, and Justin Timberlake as appropriators of Hip Hop culture. Though Cole insists that this is all in good spirits his lyrics “I’m just playin’, but all good jokes contain true shit / Same rope you climb up on, they’ll hang you with,” seems to reveal that there is some truth in his assessment of the climate change in Hip-Hop. When Cole isn’t self-proclaiming himself as the God or calling out artists, we find Cole doing what he’s developed quite the niche for, storytelling. He showcases his storytelling genius on “Wet Dreamz,” “Hello,” and “Note To Self” which serves dually as an anecdote and his thank you credits.
All in all, J.Cole has produced another memorable body of work. Laced with nostalgia, Cole expresses his truth through personal admissions and reflections, all while trying to get a handle on his placement as a celebrity and top lyricists of the future. In light of racial tension Cole’s Letterman performance of “Be Free,” a spin of the “Intro” to 2014 Forest Hills Drive, revealed Cole to be a socially conscious rapper, of which the performance can easily be sighted as one of the best television performances of the year, undoubtedly solidifying Cole’s rightful placement amongst the likes of the top performers of his class.