J Cole | KOD

Family Average: 4.2/7

Here we are with a rap album from mister J. Cole. If you are a rap fanatic, you may want to just scroll on down to Meghan’s review. She is by far the most versed in this genre and it shows. Mom is a close second, thanks to years of blasting mix CD’s in her suburban running from soccer game to game. The rest of us not so much. Still we tried our best to leave worthy reviews, stumbling along like a dad trying to take Instagram-worthy photos of his daughter at prom.

Listen along on Spotify and check out what we had to say:


Well I’m very excited this is my very first GroupMe review (the first time he sent me his review via the app, GroupMe).

Jay Cole’s K O D. I was asked to review this album. Most of you know I am not a fan of rap music, I am trying to be objective but it’s difficult .

Here’s the analogy: Someone says “I really hate sushi. I can’t stand it, it’s disgusting” and then someone else says "Let’s go get sushi, which roles do you like?" So I listen at first... I’m not enjoying it...everything sounds like "Ring Around the Rosie" then I get to attract called Kevin’s HartHere I can appreciate the artist and what he’s trying to convey it broke away from the traditional rap almost like a folk singer so I am happy to say I like that track I think this must be a good album as far as rap goes so I’ll give it a 2 out of 7 and I must admit if I liked rap the score would be higher.



This album is focused on his internal mental struggles, on himself, rather than the social issues he has tackled in the past. But the intimacy is still there as if he’s talking right to you.

He finally speaks in Brackets with his criticisms of American society, I like what that Cole has to say, a more current version of his arguments.

“Once an Addict” was interesting because the whole album is focused on his own struggles with addiction and using drugs to cope with pain, yet this song shows the roots, him watching his mom use drugs the same way.  

His message he’s trying to subtly get at the whole album comes out in “Friends”; “meditate don’t medicate.”

Then you have what may be the classiest response to beef I have ever been exposed to with “1985.”

4.5/7 Not my favorite of his, but there were moments for sure.


Dang heck yeah this guy right here. I am kinda embarrassed to say that I never actually listened to an entire J Cole album. Got really no excuse, the fellah has been around forever. Ah well.

After hearing this I kinda felt like I wanted to hear what other stuff he did because this was kinda underwhelming. Eh, I don’t know maybe I was not in the right headspace but something about overly preachy verses just push my mind to detach from the album. Also the line about being frustrated we can not vote through our cell phones was really dumb. Kinda like when a kid in high school would tell you all their ideas to “fix the world” and you would just nod along and ask for another one of their dads beers.



I’m sure you will be shocked to know that I do not listen to J.Cole on the reg.

My overall feeling was “meh.” The intro was kind wild, prefacing that life is hard and full of pain, and made me think of a Greek chorus opening some dark tragedy. I think it’s a concerted effort to give the album a greater emotional and moral impact? Maybe?

It became white noise for me, and when I did tap into the lyrics I found them to be preachy and sort of self-righteous with lines like “have you ever thought about your impact?” It feels like he just wants to argue with someone. I wouldn’t wanna be in that line of fire though, as I feel like his tactic would be to just keep saying the same thing again and again, but increasingly louder.

4/7 It’s alright.


This album is surely a classic among rap albums. I loved the collaborations with kiLL edward; his voice gave an earthy texture to the songs. I especially liked the intro on BRACKETS by Richard Pryor.

This, to me just shows the thought and artistry that went into the making of this album. Right from the start the 1st track hits you and draws you in. Even as the style changes from song to song, I was definitely glad to be along for the ride.



Oh here we go with some words, mostly words, lots of words! (callback to: the next album better have words, damnit!)

I always think “I’ve never listened to J. Cole” and then I listen to him and go “oh yeah. I have”. He’s always floating around in the atmosphere of rap playlists and couch sessions with friends but I never pin him down.

Can I say this album finally helped me say “Oh yes THAT’S J Cole!”? Yes and no.

Some songs are tasty and individual, while others are trying to be something they’re not. There’s a nice few verses in BRACKETS, probably my favorite song on the album.

SORRY to say it but felt like dollar store version of Kendrick’s DAMN. from last year. Maybe that’s coming from my lack of exposure to this genre but it is what I kept thinking.




I have very mixed feelings about this album. I thought the majority of the album was not really interesting. Of course, this is not my type of music, but I still tried hard to give it a shot. The first few songs just didn’t feel like there was anything special about them, they all sounded the same. I couldn’t really understand what he was saying, but it didn’t seem very interesting.

Then the song “once an addict” comes in, and suddenly, it’s like a totally different album. The lyrics are very personal and you can literally hear the change in his voice. He becomes much more emotional and feels the songs. The next 3 songs are on that same level, and so I wondered why? Why are these songs so different? Why are they all at the end? Why does he sing them totally differently?

My idea is that his producers and label wanted him to do some commercial sounding stuff like Kendrick, and he agreed on the condition that he can put 4 actually good songs at the end of the album, and they were like “ok sure, whatever”. I’d listen again for the last 4 songs.



I gotta give props to people who can speak rapid-fire while still clearly enunciating their words. He’s pretty good at that. Spoken word and vocals take center stage in this album, with instruments and music tracks only really filling in as background accompaniment so it was important that the vocals were done right. But sometimes the vocals, especially in choruses, would go out of sync with the beat and it was off-putting enough to take me out of the experience.

J. Cole sounds like he’s speaking out from a place of deep frustration, regret, and resentment. His songs cover a lot of hard topics and social commentary, and how futile he feels in trying to change things. It’s nothing that hasn’t been said before, but he does give his own spin to it by focusing on his own personal experiences.

The songs have a good flow for the most part and the words are solid, but compared to everything else out there it sounds like more of the same.


Sean Maldjian