J. Cole – Forest Hills Drive
So, I know, I’m a little late on this review. I’ve been listening to this album nonstop though, so I’ve had some time to really absorb the music. Before getting into the review though, let’s go through some things. First off, J. Cole has been steadily building his fan base. I’ve seen this dude go from mixtape, to getting signed, to selling a respectable amount of albums. He hasn’t really had another single like Who Dat. Sure, he’s had success with other tracks, but that track blew him up. And because of that, his first album Cole World: The Sideline Story was much anticipated. That album was certified Gold, which is great considering the Hip-Hop environment today. His follow up album, Born Sinner, wasn’t at all like the previous album. Which I’m sure got some of his fans disappointed. Personally though, I liked Cole’s more dark side on Born Sinner.
What I like about J. Cole is he represents the best of both worlds! He’s a rapper, a singer, and a producer all in one. You’ve got to give the dude respect for that alone. The crazy part is: he’s just getting better. Just to let everyone know, J. Cole’s album Forest Hills Drive has already gone Gold. Record sales aside, I think this album is definitely worth it! With that said, let’s dive into this new album.
1) Intro – This is the best Intro I’ve heard from J. Cole off of any of his albums! Why? Because it’s truly unique! Cole is getting better at singing. But what’s truly impressive is the music itself. You have that melodic roaming piano with brass and strings! Seriously, there’s something just special about what he’s doing with this track. If this is the way Cole is starting out his album, than it just gets me excited! Do you wanna be, HAPPY!
2) January 28th – And from that Intro, he meshes it perfectly with this first track. It’s so refreshing to hear organic sounding music meshed with electronic. The hook is killing it! I think the production on this song is better than the rapping in my personal opinion. Which is okay, because you know he’s holding back!
3) Wet Dreamz – As much as I like this beat, the song is a little gimmicky. I get that he had to have a track for the ladies, but I’m a little confused about why Cole is spitting about his first time having sex. If Cole is trying to show his soft side mixed with his emotional side, that’s cool. But, he’s not really spitting about anything other than the anxiety of having sex. Not my favorite track on the album, but that beat is killing it!
4) 03′ Adolescence – And now we’re back to that smooth sounding organic beat! I almost wish that this was the next track after January 28th, just because it fits the feel better for transitioning purposes. But, I digress. Cole is sounding nice on this track and you can tell he’s been putting in work.
Do you think that you would know what to do if you was me?
I got, four brothers, one mother that don’t love us
If they ain’t never want us why the fuck they never wore rubbers?
5) A Tale of 2 Cities – Okay, finally, a Trap sounding beat that sounds different! Seriously, this is so refreshing because it’s just enough of the Trap feel. And that sample is CRAZY! It’s creepy and grimy at the same time. It’s also nice to hear Cole delivering his flow differently. Actually, that’s ultimately what makes this track so energetic. One of my favorite off of the album! Definitely turn this one up!
6) Fire Squad – Nothing to amazing about this beat. Nothing really new about the topic either. I find it a little confusing that J. Cole is talking about the fact that white people have been stealing black music for a long time when in fact, J. Cole himself is half white. Not only this, but J. Cole (along with many Hip-Hop artists) sample white artists music all the time. I get it if Cole wants to identify with his black heritage, but seriously, it just comes off as being a little hypocritical. I think it’s pretty clear that Cole is frustrated with people who are phony and not “keeping it real”. It’s pretty clear to me on this track however that he himself is the one acting a little phony.
7) St. Tropez – I like this beat! The hook is CRAZY! Sonically, this is one of my favorite tracks off of the album. The dynamics are great! I’m digging Cole’s singing! I go back and forth with him singing on his past albums, but this time I think he’s finally figured out how to sound good and unique when he sings. The other good thing about Cole is that he doesn’t seem to need auto-tune. So, it makes his voice sound truly unique! The brass, background vocals, and beat though by far are better than his singing. It’s just the combination that sounds so good. Definitely dope!
8) G.O.M.D – Yeah, I’m not sure about this track. I don’t know if it needs to be on the album. But, I get what he’s trying to do with this track. It’s kind of a down south beat. It’s strange to hear the synthesizers mixed with the sample though. It’s a little sporadic with dropping the track in and out too. I’m not even really sure what Cole’s theme is over this track.
9) No Role Modelz – This is such a good track! That sample is killing it and the hook is my favorite part! It’s definitely a track you haven’t heard before. The thing is though, we get he’s single. We get that “these hoes aint loyal”. It’s kind of a tired theme in Hip-Hop. Personally for me, it would’ve been more potent if he was identifying the whole music industry (both artists and roadies alike).
10) Hello – Pretty unusual song for this album. It’s pretty personal for Cole and you can tell. I like the idea of this track, but really Cole isn’t saying too much. Especially when he’s repeating the same lyrics over and over again. This is a filler track for sure. Doesn’t need to be on the album.
11) Apparently – Like I said, you can tell Cole has been doing a better job of singing. It’s good the way he’s mixing rapping with singing on this track. He does a good job of sounding sincere over this track. This is that track that reflects the title of the album somewhat. But, Cole is inconsistent with his message. He keeps on jumping around quite a bit in the story. At one point it doesn’t even seem like he’s talking about his appreciation as much as he’s talking about women.
12) Love Yours – Again, this is kind of the same type of track as Apparently. I like the message and it seems like he keeps pretty true to the theme in this. Good message! Not really memorable in the hook, but I like this line:
Always gon’ be a whip that’s better than the the one you got
Always gon’ be some clothes that’s fresher than the ones you rock
Always gon’ be a bitch that’s badder out there on the tours
But you ain’t never gon’ be happy till you love yours
13) Note To Self – Okay, I like loose structures of songs like this. There’s not really a hook. J. Cole is singing again and by this time, even though I like most of his singing, PLEASE STOP! You don’t have to sing everything. I’m a little lost on what he’s referring to in this song. It just seems like a bunch of lyrics, but again the loose structure is kind of nice. I don’t know why he needed to make this song the credits. It’s a little strange because it literally takes like 10 minutes for him to go through all of it. He could have added 2 songs (if not even more) for the length of these credits. This is why you should just be patient and put the credits in on the album booklet/art. At the end, I don’t even know why Cole says he “took the crown” on this album.
Overall, I was impressed by the production and Cole did okay with rapping. There are definitely some tracks worth listening to, but it sounds inconsistent and a little rushed.
I give this 3.5/5.