With his last album 4 Your Eyez Only being delivered at the end of 2016 & then doing a few features since then, North Carolina rapper/producer J. Cole unexpectedly announced a free show in New York this past Monday. It was there that he performed his 5th full-length album in it’s entirety & went on Twitter shortly after the show to announce that it was coming out for everyone else this weekend. After an intro, we go into the title track. Here, Cole gets in your face about people cramping his style as well as responding to the people saying he should have more features over a murky instrumental. The track “Photograph” has a lame topic about trying to hook up with a random girl he found on social media over a guitar/trap beat while the song “The Cut Off” talks about a disloyal woman over a somber beat.
The track “ATM” energetically talks about his fame & wealth over a laidback beat while the song “Motiv8” talks about moving on despite having all these demons over some funky bass. The track “Kevin’s Heart” goes into the point of view of a drug addict over a smooth trap beat, but it’s really corny to me. The song “Brackets” talks about his success over a smooth beat & the track “Once an Addict” talks about his mother’s alcoholism over a settle beat. The song “Friends” is basically him pouring his heart out to a drug-addicted friend of his over a gloomy beat while the penultimate track “Window Pain” talks about everything he wants over an atmospheric instrumental. The album closes with “1985” sees Cole is reflecting on his whole life up until this point over a vibraphone-boom bap beat.
While this is definitely better than Cole’s last album, that’s not really saying much. The production & the concept aren’t too bad, but his singing voice & the hooks ruin it for me. I really had hope that J. Cole would bounce back given his features on the new Jeezy album Pressure & the upcoming Royce da 5’9” album Book of Ryan but at the end of the day, this is just another mixed bag for me