Jermaine Cole’s latest project, KOD, channels pure artistry. It's inspired by an artist who doesn’t stray from lyrical consistency, Kendrick Lamar. Cole witnessed Lamar's work onstage in Detroit during the Damn Tour, which left both fans and Cole himself coveting the encore. These artists, who lead the hip-hop generation, have two things in common: a desire to keep hip-hop alive by providing a philosophical perspective and an absence on social media.
While people who don’t like to hear the truth sometimes refer to Cole as a snooze button, KOD has impressed fans and welcomed some haters to Cole World. Using his masterful ability to tell a story through a track, J. Cole reaches new artistic heights while remaining faithful to his beliefs.
The album includes a demon Cole refers to as "kiLL Edward," who is inspired by Cole’s mother’s heartbreaker and the rapper's stepfather, Edward. KOD also reaches out to the new generation, discussing topics such as cheating, drug addiction, and capitalism that are constantly pushed under a rug.
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The album broke release-day records earlier this year on Spotify with 36.6 million streams, But that is far from the only success for the kid with the crooked smile. Blame Jermaine for the viral phrase, “platinum with no feature,” as his 2014 Forest Hills Drive, released in December 2014, went double platinum and won a Billboard Music Award for Top Rap Album in 2015.
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This past May, the rapper came to Miami for a Rolling Loud Festival performance and sat down in a 94-minute interview with radio personality Angie Martinez. He discussed some of his fans’ feedback on the album, his outlook on new rappers, and how he deals with anxiety. He revealed his five-minute meditation practice before going onstage.
On KOD’s tenth track, he motivates his listeners: “One thing about your demons, they bound to catch up one day/I'd rather see you stand up and face them than run away/I understand this message is not the coolest to say/But if you down to try it, I know of a better way/Meditate/Don't medicate.”
It’s obvious this lyric is more powerful than a paid ad on social media. Indeed, on the eighth track, “Photograph,” Cole shows that even though he’s not actively on social media, he’s aware of its platforms' effect on the new generation. Knowing the influence, the rapper still doesn’t publicize life-changing announcements through social media like some pop artists do.
KOD elaborates on open, ingenious vibes, reminding Cole's fans of the times they first heard him. There’s anticipation he’ll perform “Lights Please” for that sense of authentic intimacy when he kicks off his tour at the AmericanAirlines Arena Thursday, August 9. J. Cole’s consistency shows him to be a genuine artist, sharing stories that make clear his communications degree from St. John’s University has been put to use.
J. Cole. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 9, at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; aaarena.com. Tickets cost $45.50 to $145.50 via ticketmaster.com.