By SAN AGARWAL
Jermaine Cole, also known as J. Cole, recently released his third and newest album, Forest Hills Drive, on December 9. Cole’s previous albums, including Born Sinner, which was considered one of the best albums of 2013 by Rolling Stone, largely put to rest any doubts of his talent as an artist. Cole’s latest follow-up album further demonstrates his tremendous artistic skills. Though Cole has yet to sell more albums than popular rappers such as Drake or Kendrick, this new album release may increase his deserved popularity and fan base.
The album features thirteen songs in total, all of which have a smooth beat and varied, interesting instrumental music. The album starts off with the “Intro,” featuring piano chords and singing. Rather than rapping quickly without meaning, J. Cole does a good job rapping slowly and musically while connecting with the audience personally. For example, he provides insight as to how he achieved fame and gives his varied opinions on rapping.
My personal favorite song of the entire album is “A Tale of Two Citiez.” This amazing song truly showcases Cole’s talent as a rapper. The loud bass of the piece allows the music to be upbeat and full of energy. After listening to this song, I believe that many artists will use this instrumental beat to create their own free-style music. In this piece, Cole reflects, “Last night I had a bad dream that I was trapped in the city and then I asked, is that really such a bad thing?” Cole fears being stuck in the city forever because it could conflict with his aspirations of becoming a successful rapper; however, he later raps that perhaps the fame that comes with rapping is not worth the struggle and it could be easier for him to partake in criminal life.
Another highlight song featured in the album is “Fire Squad.” Though the song is upbeat, it showcases a relaxing instrumental part that contributes to the piece’s complexity. This is a catchy song you would want to sing along to in the car with all of your friends. In this piece, Cole expresses how he once was poor but could work hard to achieve his goals and overcome his financial obstacles.
Though I do believe Cole’s previous album, Born Sinner, which is nearly impossible to top, was better than Forest Hills Drive, this album still reassured me that Cole’s music is absolutely genius. I would recommend others to listen to this new album and would rate it 4.5 stars out of 5.