J. Cole’s Fifth Studio Album KOD is a Whirlwind of Pensive Wisdom

For someone so consistent, we’ve yet to encounter a repeated color in the prism of J. Cole’s kaleidoscopic versatility. His fifth studio album KOD arrives today, April 20th (the stoner’s holiday known as 4/20), and finds the rapper/activist lacing the frequently explored political themes dissected in much of his work (“BRACKETS”) into new topics from personal childhood trauma (“Once An Addict”) to entertainment and popular culture’s hazardous promotion of drug abuse (“FRIENDS”). A few hours prior to the album’s release, J. Cole offered a mini breakdown of the title’s meaning. “KOD. 3 meanings. Kids on Drugs / King Overdosed / Kill Our Demons The rest of the album I leave to your interpretation.” he tweeted. An explanation of each angle is offered monologue style in the album’s trailer which can be viewed below.

What is obvious is that Cole took his time with KOD. There’s thoughtful directness in each pensive verse. Every bar hits with precise intention though it’s clear the goal is to breed conviction, not condemnation. With “choose wisely” reminders audibly buried throughout the project, the Dreamville founder urges listeners to take control and suggests the solace of meditation over the numbing effects of medication.

Much like its two predecessors (2014’s Forrest Hills Drive and 2016’s For Your Eyez Only), KOD contains no features (unless you count Cole’s musical alter kiLL edward). Personal favorite “Motiv8” functions as just that (a motivating number to get right back on track for whenever you fall off) and standout number “Photograph” exposes love in today’s digital age for scrutiny. And in case you had any doubt, it’s still a Cole world as heard in “1985 (Intro to “The Fall Off”).”

Listen to KOD from J. Cole via Spotify and Apple Music below and watch the album’s first visual for “ATM” above.

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