J. Cole Cashes In With One Of The Most Creative Videos Of The Year

Historically, April 20 is an unofficial holiday celebration for mental relaxation and controlled substances. J. Cole’s just-released 4/20 album frames that conversation differently. Songs address deadly recreational drug use, such as pill-popping, without any glorification. Instead, on the LP reported to partly mean Kidz On Drugz and King Overdose (in addition to Kill Our Demonz), Cole is about confrontation, examining real-life consequences. Without taking a preaching stance, Cole’s illustrations bleed beyond talking about numbing the pain through capsules, but also through consumerism. Today, he cashes out on this concept with the music video for “ATM.” It addresses both drug use and those driven purely by papes.

Directed by Scott Lazer and Cole, the visual is chock full of blatant symbolism. Among cotton candy clouds, five dead-eyed children, riding atop a makeshift aircraft constructed from prescription medication bottles, are chasing the mighty dollar bill that Cole is trailing behind his floating throne.

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Meanwhile, lyrics rack up the overblown power of paper: “I know that it’s difficult / I’m stackin’ this paper, it’s sort of habitual / I blow the residual / And f*ckin’ yo’ bitch like its part of my ritual / Pardon the visual / But money, it give me a hard-on it’s typical / I want it in physical / A million dollars, I count up in intervals / Without it I’m miserable / Don’t want to fall off so I’m all in my bag / Thankin’ God like it’s Biblical / I know it’s gon’ solve every problem I have.” He sits in a room with walls made of money, seemingly trapped.

The theme is obvious, but it’s approached in a whimsical fashion with colorful treatment and playful, over the top, imagery. After Cole makes a tragic choice, the video closes with the two words, “Choose Wisely” which are a running theme in KOD.