I Can't Call It: 2014 Forest Hills Drive - J. Cole

Posted On Monday, December 22, 2014

Most folk who know me knew I wasn't a big J. Cole fan. And trust me, it’s wasn't cause I didn’t think dude can spit cause money is nice. It’s just dude never really stood out to me. For years I would hear some dude spitting and I would NEVER know who the hell it was. It would be a R&B jawn and this dude would come spit his 16 and I’d always be like “dude is nice…who is it?” And this would happen over and over and over and over and over again. It was like dude was that neutral color that they use on the walls of the model apartments. You know that color that’s just blah and you’re thinking to yourself that I can’t wait to move in and paint. Yup, that was J. Cole to me. But then something crazy happened. I finally listened to my dude Esco who had been telling me about Cole for YEARS and  I listened to his last album “Born Sinner” and I really dug it. For some reason, all of a sudden now he stood out to me. He went from being that blah color to that color you actually want to paint your crib. So, I like the bul now and “Born Sinner” was a really solid album but the important question is, can this dude impress me again? See…that right there is the hard part right. And with “2014 Forrest Hill Drive” on tap, I guess I'm about to find out.

Now the first thing that gets me from the door with “2014…” is the beautiful music on the “Intro.” It’s got dope keys and horns that instantly take me back to those Outlast “Aquemini” days (which were some GREAT days BTW) and has Cole asking us “do we wanna be happy, do we wanna be free?” “January 28th” is a dope track and has Cole dropping jewels, “what’s the price for a black man’s life, I checked the toe tag not one zero in site/I turned the TV on not one hero in site, unless he dribbles or he fiddle with mics” but at the same time letting these other rap cats know who’s the new rap god, “I ain’t serve no pies I ain’t slang no dope/I don’t bring no lies n-ggaz sang my quotes/I don’t play no games boy I ain’t no joke/like the great Rakim when I make my notes/you n-ggaz might be L or you might be Kane, or you might be Slick Rick with 19 chains/or you might be Drizzy Drake or Kendrick Lamar, but check the birthdate n-gga you ain’t the god.” “Wet Dreams” might be some of the realest ish I’ve heard in a minute with Cole droppin’ an ill story that’ll have dudes thinking back to our first shot like that flick “The Wood” did. “03 Adolescence” has Cole reminiscing on coming up feeling like he wasn’t on point, “I grew up a f-cking screw up, tie my shoe up/wish they were newer, damn, need something newer/in love with the baddest girl in the city I wish I knew her/I wish I wasn’t so shy, wish I was a bit more fly/I wish that I could tell her how I really feel inside/that I’m the perfect n-gga for her but then maybe that’s a lie.” And how sometimes the dude you look up to for having all of the fly stuff cause he's in the streets is actually looking up to you, “I complimented how I see him out here getting that cash and I asked what a nigga gotta do to get that/put me on he just laughed when he seen I was sure, 17 years breathing his demeanor said more/he told me n-gga you know how you sound right now, listen you everything I wanna be that’s why I f-ck with you/so how you looking up to me when I look up to you/you about to go get a degree I’m be stuck with two choices, either graduate to weight or selling number two.” “A Tale of Two Citiez” has Cole in the mind set of a young dude out here trying to figure out how to get some paper whether robbing cats or selling drugs while “Fire Squad” has Cole going in on these white artists out here who are “stealing the soul”, “history repeats itself and that’s just how it goes, same way that these rappers always bite each others flows/same thing that my n-gga Elvis did with rock n roll, Justin Timberlake, Eminem and then Macklemore/while silly n-gga argue over who gonna snatch the crown/look around my n-gga, 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.” Cole about to start some ish up in here...and I dig that.

“St. Topez” has Cole freaking one of my fave Chaka Khan songs “Hollywood” over one of my favorite samples Ester Williams’ (made famous by LL for the Pink Cookies Remix) but I won’t hold you, this is one of my beef’s with Cole’s production. I don’t know if he’s trying to pay homage to the groups and artists who have already made these samples famous like Jay CLAIMS he does with Big’s rhymes but I feel like he always reusing samples and not even flipping them. He’s just using this Ester sample the same way LL AND Mobb already used it! But I still mess with it, I’m jut sayin’ tho. “G.OM.D.” bangs and “No Role Modelz” has Cole breaking down the dating game out here and how the pickings up good women are REAL nowadays, “I want a real love dark skinned Aunt Viv love, that Jada and Will love/that leave a toothbrush at your crib love, and you ain’t gotta wonder whether that’s your kid love/n-gga I don’t want no b-tch from reality shows out of touch with reality hoes, out in Hollywood bringing back 5 or 6 hoes.” “My only regret was too young for Lisa Bonet, my only regret was too young for Nia Long, now all I’m left with is hoes from these reality shows/hand her a script the bi-ch probably couldn’t read along.” And since Cole can’t get no love out in these street from these reality show hoes, on “Hello” he calls up one of his old flames to find out what’s good with her, “and I thought about you today and I thought about the thing you used to say/and I thought about the things we did and I thought about your newest kid/and damn that makes 2 now, what do I do now/cause if we ever got together, I’d have to be them n-ggaz step pop forever/and well that ain’t my thing cause I ain’t even got my own and I ain’t really got no home, no place to put these things I own” while “Apperently” has Cole regretting some of the decisions he’s made, “think back to Forest Hills no perfect home but the only thing like home I’ve ever known/until they snatched it from my mama and foreclosed her on the loan/I’m so sorry that I left you there to deal with that alone, I was up in New York City chasing panties getting dome/had no clue what you was going through how could you be so strong/and how could I be so selfish.” “Love Yourz” has Cole dropping science on us about how we all need to be happy with the life we have. With a chorus of “there’s no such thing as a life that’s better then your” and lyrics like “for what’s money without happiness or hard times without the people you love/though I’m not sure what’s about to happen next I asked for strength from the Lord above/cause I’ve been strong so far but I can feel my grip loosening, quick do something before you lose it for good get it back and use it for good, and touch people how you did like before /I’m tires of living with demons cause they always inviting more, think being broke was better/now I don’t mean that phrase with no disrespect to all my n-ggaz out there living in debt, cashing minimal checks/turn on the TV see a n-gga with a rolex and fantasize about a life with no stress/I mean this shit sincerely and that’s a n-gga who was once in your shoes, living with nothing to lose/I hope one day you hear me, always gonna be a bigger house somewhere but n-gga feel me, long as the people in that motherf-cker love you dearly/always gonna be a whip that’s better than the one you got, always gonna be some clothes that’s fresher than the ones you rock/always gonna be a b-tch that’s badder out there on the tours but you ain’t never gonna be happy til you love yours”…ain’t that the truth. “Note To Self” has Cole giving his shout outs to all his folk over some more of that beautiful music that set the album off and ends “2014…” on a PERFECT note.

After sittin' with "2014..." for a minute, I actually can’t believe what I’m about to say but I honestly think that J Cole is the new Pac. Now, before all of ya’ll Pac dudes get that last comment twisted and put a hit out on me (cause I KNOW how ya’ll Pac dudes do) let me explain. First up, I’ve never been a big Pac fan. In fact, I’ve never heard an entire Tupac album but I did rock with him. Now, how exactly is that possible? Cause I might not have rocked with Pac like that when he was in the booth but I loved dude’s passion outside the booth. See, I respected Pac’s gangsta big time. And I’m not talking about his thug life gangsta, I’m talking about his gangsta of never being shook to say how he felt. When everything went down with Mike Brown in Fergurson, the first thing that came to my mind was “I wish Pac was here.” Now that statement bugged me the hell out cause I’m like why is Pac the first person to come to mind when there’s some black injustice going on? Not Chuck D but Pac?!?! See, the one thing I knew about Pac is he didn’t take no ish and there’s a lot of ish going on right now and I KNOW if Pac was alive he’d be the first one in Fergerson leading the rally before Chuck and the S1’s could even get off the plane. He would’ve been in Florida when Trayvon Martin was killed. He would’ve been in Queens when Sean Bell was killed. So while I'm sitting here wondering, “where are all of the heavy weight black folk with all this bullsh-t going on” and I look up and the only dude I see is J. Cole....I gotta ask myself,  “damn...is Cole the new Pac?” Then after building with “2014 Forrest Hill Drive” for a good minute, I honestly feel like if Pac was alive…THIS would've been the album he would've made. Now, I could be 120% wrong on this cause again, I’m not a big Pac dude but that’s just how I feel. Cause this album right here, this is the album that hip hop NEEDED and I guess the new Pac is the one that was suppose to give it to us. Salute!

4 outta 5

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