“As long as we are not ourselves, we will try to be what other people are.” -Malidoma Patrice Somé (Of Water and the Spirit)
“KOD” is arguably one of the best songs on the album in terms of production and sound. The main stand out lyric from this piece is when J Cole says:
“Only gon’ say this one time, then I’ll dip. People ain’t worthy to be on my sh*t.”
Cole is referencing to the fact that there are no features on his album. Some may take a second glance at the track list and think, “Well then who is kiLL edward?”. That is why this lyric is so important.
Kill Edward is just J Cole in a deep voice. Edward represents J Cole’s demon that is being referenced in the meaning KOD: Kill our demons. Some people believe that Edward is the demon taking the children’s souls on the album cover. Artistic, right?
In “Photograph”, J Cole raps about an all too common feeling technology users experience when they scroll across their fantasy boo, who is an entire profile away.
“Fell in love through a photograph. I don’t even know your name. Wonder if you’d follow back. I hope to see you one day.”
A wish upon a star that will only go as far into the DM’s, if you are lucky.
Everyone knows by now that Comedian Kevin Hart is not just notorious for his sense of humor, he is also a well known adulterer. J Cole has a song playing off of the celebrity's name titled, “Kevin’s Heart” which makes sense considering the song is centered around infidelity.
“All in your mind were fears that would come true. The back of my mind, the back of my mind was you. Wishing that I could blind myself from view, and only have eyes, and only have eyes for you.”
The music video was brilliantly constructed as it stars the famous actor himself at the center of each scene. Kevin Hart constantly struggles to dodge attractive females pursuing him at every corner and the public eye judging his actions with every step.
J Cole’s song “BRACKETS” touches on deeper concepts when it comes to making big bills in America. Cole is mostly worried about where all of his money goes when sent to the IRS. He has an issue with the government spending his money on teachers that don’t look like the students in his community (minorities).
As underrepresented as the school system is when it comes to diversity, they are also teaching about the heroes with the “whitest of skin,” while the writers of history books we are funding that make our pockets slim seem to "white-out all of their sins".
All of these matters are discussed within “BRACKETS” as well as a very smart proposition from J Cole for technology to be further incorporated into our government that way taxpayers can have more of a say in the democracy’s agenda:
“If I’m giving y’all this hard-earned bread, I wanna know. Better yet, let me decide, it’s 2018. Let me pick the things I’m funding from an app on my screen. Better than letting whack congressmen I’ve never seen dictate where my money goes, straight into the palms of some money hungry company that make guns that circulate the country and then wind up in my hood makin’ bloody clothes.”
The songwriter then goes on and explains a sad tale of gun violence and its effects which occur in our very own backyards.
This song talks about drug use and touches on a lot of subjects that affect J Cole’s community.
In reference to drugs, J Cole talks about its addictive feeling:
“I’m aggravated without it, My saddest days are without it, My Saturdays are the loudest. I’m blowing strong.”
The main lyrical sector of “FRIENDS” touches on what people choose to blame their addiction on. The list ranges from the government to family issues. The main takeaway is J Cole encouraging his listeners not to use drugs as medicine to depression as it will further the addiction and can lead to suicide. He wants his fans to be comfortable in their skin with and without the drug. J Cole wants his friends to meditate with each prescription and not to medicate.
“1985” is the ultimate diss track to young rappers in the mumble rap or trap game. If your rap name starts with ‘lil’ and your lyrics are solely about the bread you make and the drugs you buy with it, then this song is targeted at you.
J Cole is not hating in the song, he actually is supportive of most things these rappers are doing because he “loves to see a black man get paid”. The only diss in the entire song is frankly when he raps, “In five years, you gon’ be on love & hip hop”.
The rest of the song's entity encompasses the fact that these rappers, whose content speaks to no one and only adds to negative stigmas and stereotypes put on the black community, are on a fast track to nowhere. Their music will fall out, and eventually, people will stop listening because we all have to grow up sometime.