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KOD Exhibits Music without a Voice

KOD+marks+J.+Cole%27s+fifth+studio+album.+It+was+released+on+April+20+2018.+
KOD marks J. Cole's fifth studio album. It was released on April 20 2018.

KOD marks J. Cole's fifth studio album. It was released on April 20 2018.

KOD marks J. Cole's fifth studio album. It was released on April 20 2018.

By Matthew Sevilla, Staff Writer

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K.O.D. or within the context of the albumwhich fittingly released on April 20 or 4/20“Killer of Demons,” “King of Dreamville,” “Kidz on Drugs.”

One of the most striking aspects of the album is the cover art: a painting of artist J. Cole wearing a golden crown and a huge velvet cloak.

He stares at the audience with blind eyes and a glazed look on his face. The inside of his cloak is blown open to reveal a group of cartoon children snorting cocaine, sipping lean, popping pills, and more.

Behind them is a warm, dreamy-looking landscape of color and in tiny white text like the disclaimer in a car ad, a message above it reads: “This album is in no way intended to glorify addiction.”

The disclaimer is true; much of the album is spent advising against using drugs as a coping mechanism, and speaking on the impacts that drug use has had on his life.  

A prime example would be the track “Once an Addict (Interlude),” in which the rapper details his mother’s struggle with alcoholism, and how his failure to help his mother haunts him years later.

He also speaks on several of the other problems he’s had, like the fact that he loses nearly 50% of his income in taxes that go to systems that keep African-Americans in poverty, or his issues with being considerate to a lover.

As a whole, this album seems much more focused and thematic than his previous albums like 2014 Forest Hills Drive, which was more like a collection of songs than a fleshed-out album.

Overall, J. Cole succeeds in crafting a full experience. He dives heavily into the issues of addiction and all of its’ consequences, and manages to cover other issues he sees with society as well.

Unfortunately though, the album is held back by one huge flaw: the music.

More specifically, the music and beats in KOD doesn’t evoke emotions like J. Cole’s music has in the past.

Take a classic J. Cole song like “Wet Dreamz,” “Tale of 2 Citiez,” or “No Role Modelz.” Each one brings you into the setting and mood of the song and keeps it catchy at the same time.

None of the tracks on KOD feel the same. I am never brought into the setting of any of the songs on KOD, nor do I ever find myself humming the tune hours later.

Instead, KOD’s beats provide simple backgrounds for J. Cole’s lyrics. All of the songs have the same distant background feeling to them, and none of the songs sound particularly unique or memorable.

Now this isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but it holds the album back from its’ full potential. Having minimalist music is fine if done well, but in this case it never really added to the album’s value or catchiness.

In the end, the music serves its’ purpose as a canvas for J. Cole’s lyrics, and none of the songs are particularly bad or low quality. While the production may be a little disappointing, it certainly doesn’t ruin the entire album.

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KOD Exhibits Music without a Voice