Who would have thunk after a pretty mediocre year Hip Hop albums Jermaine Cole comes out and gives us this early Christmas gift with 2014 Forest Hills Drive. J. Cole’s 5th body of work is easily my second favorite after Friday Night Lights, which I still think should have been his debut album. Cole World definitely felt forced on a lot of tracks and a lot of what made me like him in the first place was missing. Born Sinner he figured out how to make radio songs and give us a bit more of himself, but I didn’t like the production and it sounded like stuff I heard before. I guess the third time is the charm because I feel like we finally got a J. COLE album. It sounds like Roc Nation was pretty hands off on this. There’s no radio singles or club bangers and you know what I’m cool with that, that’s not J Cole’s lane. He tried and it doesn’t work I’m happy we don’t have that on here. I mean you could play “G.O.M.D” in the club if you had to. This album feels like the album J. Cole wanted to make in 2011. We all knew he could and I guess now he’s confident or the label was to let him do his thing.
Lyrically he’s still the same which isn’t a bad thing, he’s never been a slouch on the mic. I just didn’t hear any lyrical growth sounded like the usual Cole, but that could change after some more listens. I really wished he didn’t sing to much, that’s what features are for. Speaking of features, there aren’t any. This album is all J. Cole which is another plus, because the person with the best verse on the album is J. Cole. I gotta give it up to the Dreamville team for going that route especially in a day when the major selling point for an album is who is featured on the album. Which is why this album reminds me so much of Friday Night Lights you just get Cole.
On production again Cole handles most of it on his own, he does get some assistance from Nick Paradise, Dre Charles & Team Titans on “January 28th” which is one of my favorite beats on the album. Other co-producers on the album include,Pop Wansel & JProof. Funny thing 4 of the albums best songs don’t weren’t done by J. Cole,”03′ Adolescence”,”Tale Of 2 Citiez”, “No Role Modelz” and “Love Yourz” were all produced by Willie B, Vinylz, Phonix Beats & Illmind respectively. As producer J. Cole has definitely gotten better and the guest producers put together beats that fit well with the sound he’s be creating for the last 5 years. It’s nice to hear someone not have DJ Mustard on their album in 2014, although I wouldn’t mind hearing Cole on a Mustard beat.
As for the songs themselves, their all well put together. I still don’t have a favorite yet, some songs I really like off the bat are “January 28th”, “St Tropez”, “G.O.M.D.”, “Apparently” and “No Role Modelz”. “Fire Squad” is a big one, Cole goes off on that one and gets a few things off his chest. “History repeats itself and that’s just how it goes/Same way that these rappers always bite each others flows/Same thing that my nigga Elvis did with Rock n Roll/Justin Timberlake, Eminem, and then Macklemore/While silly niggas argue over who gon’ snatch the crown/Look around, my nigga, white people have snatched the sound/This year I’ll prolly go to the awards dappered down/Watch Iggy win a Grammy as I try to crack a smile/I’m just playin’, but all good jokes contain true shit.” That verse has a lot of truth in it, and remember it was made before the Grammy nominations went out. The only song I hit skip on is “Wet Dreamz” it’s good for one listen but after that I don’t need to hear it again, Cole telling the story of his first time is great but I don’t need to hear it over and over. “Note to Self” is good, but he goes into a drunken thank you speech which is kind of annoying and funny.
Overall I wasn’t expecting a J Cole album didn’t really want one, we got one and I’m happy we did. It’s still not a classic in my standards but it’s another great entry in his growing catalogue.