Album Review: J. Cole 2014 Forest Hills Drive

January 12, 2015

Second only to folk music, hip-hop is the paramount storytelling genre of all time. It builds on the abilities of funk and blues, two great predecessors. Most typically, we see it used as a poppy-hit-machine, though at its most realized, hip-hop is an outlet for feelings of rage, frustration, and oppression. While hip-hop stars are most often characterized as hyper-aggressive chauvinists, when used correctly the genre allows them to rise above and to tell their stories.

Born in Germany and raised in North Carolina, J. Cole grew up in a house with a folk-hippie mother and a hardcore gangsta rap loving father. As such, his sounds are blended and nuanced. His new album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, is without a shadow of a doubt, his best release yet. This is the most sensitive we have seen the J. Cole character to date. He’s frightened at the state of hip-hop and the world he lives in. The album is a call to action that is partially piggybacked from Jay-Z’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail; “We need to write the new rules.”

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