J. Cole is, if anything, consistent: He’s dropped an album every two years for his past three projects; he’s constantly tried his damnedest to prove his worth as this generation’s Tupac (one could easily replace that with Nas — but he’s already let him down, so…); and he’s persistently tried to prove his detractors wrong, failing miserably in the process. He addresses one of his most meme-d critiques on KOD’s second track, posing a rhetorical question non-believers would ask (“How come you won’t get a few features?”), only for them to be smote by the gospel of a Kendrick-wannabe: “How ’bout you just get the fuck off my dick?” It’s about all one can really expect from one Jermaine Cole, who’s a consistently mediocre rapper who couldn’t string a compelling story together even if his life depended on it. Take “Brackets,” which finds Cole railing against the government collecting his taxes, then about how broken school curriculums are, and then inserting a story about a low-income family’s son being shot, where the ultimate kicker finally reveals itself at the end: The day of the funeral is on tax day. This bombshell is supposed to tie all of the different threads of the song together, yet it actually does the opposite, exposing Cole as someone with no real understanding of these societal problems, who thinks linking these issues by association is in anyway constructive or clever.
Even the supposed ‘bangers’ here, like “ATM” and “Motiv8,” reek of disingenuous lecturing about how evil drugs, fame, and newly acquired wealth are; we are the brainless public expected to learn a lesson or two from a dude who once rapped “And I don’t mean no disrespect whenever I say faggot / Okay, faggot? / Don’t be so sensitive, if you want to get fucked in the ass / That’s between you and whoever else’s dick it is” with no shame. The worst moment on KOD is saved for last with “1985 (Intro to ‘The Fall Off’)” — which will supposedly serve as the intro for his next album, a ridiculous faux-inventive move that Cole’s fans will no doubt eat up; and a track on which Jermaine decides to teach “the new generation” of rappers some life lessons. The biggest one he offers is to be like Cole, and to have rhyming skills that are “tip top,” a statement so filled with lies that one can’t help but wonder: Who’s really destroying the culture with their “mindless” music?
Published as part of What Meek Didn’t Do | The Rap Releases We Missed in 2018.