J. Cole Has Just Released His New Album. Listen To All Of KOD (Audio)

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Mere moments ago, the five time Grammy award nominated-J. Cole dropped K.O.D., his fifth full-length album. Once again approaching his project roll-out in perplexing and unpredictable fashion, Cole shook the Hip-Hop community with an abrupt announcement just four days prior to K.O.D.’s unveiling. With 16 months between his last release (4 Your Eyez Only) and K.O.D., the Dreamville founder and modern day Rap icon has officially embarked on yet another ambitious phase of his ever-evolving music career.

Never short in significance, Cole has announced that the album, K.O.D., serves as a triple entendre, translating to three separate titles: Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed and Kill Our Demons. The front cover depicting a hypnotizing King Cole donning an exposed cloak, occupied by four children engaging in some form of drug activity, along with three skeletons (potentially acting as metaphorical demons hidden within). Etched above the seemingly disoriented representation of King Cole reads the words, “This album is in no way intended to glorify addiction.”

In a video trailer that Cole released for the album, he goes into extensive detail about what the three iterations of the title mean:

Kidz On Drugz

“If I turn on the TV right now, it’s not gonna take long for there to be an advertisement that pops up that says, ‘Are you feeling down? Have you been having lonely thoughts?’ And then they shove a pill in your face. The first response of any problem, is medicate”

King Overdosed

“That’s representin’ me the times that I was, and am, afflicted by the same methods of escape, whether it be alcohol, phone addiction, women.”

Kill Our Demons

“That’s the end goal, to face our sh*t, realize that we have some sh*t going on inside. Everybody. I realize everybody’s family is f*cked up. I used to feel like it was just my family. Because nobody’s f*cking perfect, whether you want to or not, you’re gonna f*ck your kids up in some type of way, ’cause you got f*cked up in some type of way. The plan is to f*ck your kids up the least amount possible, but there’s going to be some sort of mistake you made that they’re gonna have to grow up in and face. Kill Our Demons is like finding that sh*t, whether it be from traumatic childhood experiences, whether it be from a lack of attention, confidence issues, insecurities—whatever it is, we gotta be honest with ourselves, look in the mirror or look inside and ask ourselves questions like, ‘What is really eating me? What’s causing me to run to this thing as an escape?’ And once I find the root of it, let me look it in it’s face and see what it really is.”

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Aside from the obvious spotlight on substance abuse, if considering the thoroughness in which Cole approaches his contextually-focused music, there is no doubt that the possibilities for K.O.D. to elicit multiple interpretations and narratives are lofty. Within the frenzy that K.O.D. has sparked (including the whispers of an immediate follow up album based on the outro track) is the strangeness of the album listing just one sole guest feature, an artist named kiLL edward, appearing on two of the album’s 12 tracks (“The Cut Off” & “Friends”). Unusual largely because Cole has recently established his albums as stand alone projects, isolating himself from outside influence and guest features. Presumably due to the carefully constructed concepts and the weight of the lyrical substance necessary to pair with the themes, Cole has felt that his message(s) would be diluted if not coming entirely from his own mind and mouth. Of course it’s been suggested that the enigmatic kiLL edward features are in fact the alter-ego of Cole himself, but the certainty of that belief will only come with the consumption of the project.

Within Cole’s evolution as an artist and individual, he’s become increasingly grounded and approachable, choosing carefully when to act, but displaying genuine sincerity when he does. In a current consumer atmosphere where nearly all of our favorite artist’s creative processes are chronicled, J. Cole’s consciously cryptic release methods are especially ingenious. He has eluded piracy, employed shock value as his chief marketing officer, and generated undeviating devotion from a profoundly loyal fan base.

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Fans will learn more in the coming days, weeks and months on what role K.O.D. will actually play in J. Cole’s story, but coming off of two double-platinum albums, we can certainly expect K.O.D. to keep Jermaine firmly situated in his throne among the present-day greats. At a listening party in New York this week, Cole conveyed to those in attendance that he knew he could “create a classic” with K.O.D. Go ahead Jermaine, we’re all listening.