Review: J. Cole’s KOD is the album we need


Brooke Volpi, Staff Writer

It seemed like everybody had their earbuds in on April 20 when rapper J. Cole released his new album, KOD. Before I had listened to a word of the album, I had already heard every opinion imaginable. While many of my (South Tampa middle class) friends were adamant in claiming that his new album was trash, when I arrived at school I was berated with rave reviews. Needless to say, I was confused. How could the same album elicit such different responses?

My other question about the album was more simple- what does KOD even mean?

After some researching, I discovered that Cole revealed the album title’s three sided meaning; Kid On Drugs, King Overdose, and Kill Our Demons. These three meanings, I feel, perfectly encapsulate his purpose.

KOD is certainty not your basic rap album. KOD is not an ode to the party life, to fancy cars, to drugs, to designer brands, or to beautiful girls. Rather, it’s a warning. This album sparks necessary conversation about the dangers of addiction.

In KOD, Cole looks back to his childhood and his struggles with addiction as well as his mother’s. I see it as similar to Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. in that it talks about real issues inspired by the artists’ personal experiences in the form of rap, instead of just layering meaningless verses over a catchy beat. Many of these bad reviews come from people looking at rap music for the shallow verses and catchy beat and nothing more.

In my opinion, KOD is a triumph for the rap community. In it, Cole has paired catchy beats with meaningful lyrics, a combination that seems to be in shortage today.

Recently, Soundcloud “rappers” have made songs with trash beats and even trashier lyrics popular. I truly hope that the future of rap isn’t one single idiotic phrase over the same basic beat we’ve heard a million times (e.g. “Gucci Gang”). While there is a time and place for songs like that, I’d rather listen to a song that took more than 30 minutes to make.

Ultimately, despite the variety of differing opinions, Cole’s new album seems to be doing fine. Within 24 hours of its release, KOD smashed Apple Music 24-hour streaming records with 64.5 million streams, as well as the Spotify first-day U.S. album streams record with 36.7 million streams. Additionally, KOD was set at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart with the biggest debut of 2018.

No matter your what your opinions of J. Cole’s new album are, you have to admit it opens up a conversation that society needs to have.