(I have been listening to 2014 Forrest Hills Drive for a week and here is what I think.....)
This album is a classic. Ok, I know I've already heard the backlash from the statement because I said it after the third day of listening, “Lou it's too early, Lou you are overreacting, Lou you always do this.” I get it ...well not really I think one of the elements of a classic album is the initial feeling it gives you but that's another argument for another day. Now to my breakdown of 2014 Forrest Hills Drive and in my opinion, what makes it a classic? It’s normal. That is the short of it, and what I mean is in time when people will do anything for a re-tweet or an Instagram like you have someone, who is in one of the flashiest professions in the world, saying hey “I just want to be normal.” Don't look at me as some super hero who is different from you; I just happen to make good money doing something I love and something most people are not fortunate enough to do.
Start with the marketing campaign for 2014 Forrest Hills Drive, to go back to your hometown and buy the home where your mom was evicted and make that same address the title of the new album says a lot about Cole and where he wants the spotlight. Cole who is going into his third album, which is usually the album that will define your career, is saying that the story of 2014 Forrest Hills Dr is so important that he didn’t want to water it down with a single, forcing him to sound a certain way for radio. He didn’t want to bring in the hottest rappers for features because they were not here in this place around these times for this story of 2014 Forrest Hills Dr. Any of those elements would have killed the initial vibe in which Cole was aiming. As rap fans we expect you to use the equity you have built from two successful albums, which Cole has, and go all in on the third album. As fans, we want big videos, hot features, and a catchy single. Rap fans have become accustomed to that in our generation of hip hop. For example, take Jay Z, the man running the label the label in which Cole is signed, his third album Hard Knock Life Vol.2 sold 5x platinum, is his most successful album. The lead single “A Hard Knock Life” sampled the Broadway classic Annie, was a smash. Having built the aforementioned equity with his successful first two albums Jay was able go big on his third album he took advantage and it was his most successful.
Even more of an incentive for Cole to take this game plan into his third album but nope Cole took us home to 2014 Forrest Hills Drive. Going against the grain as Cole did with this his album gave him the freedom to complete the story he started with his first mixtape “The Come Up”. Throughout the catalog of Cole we hear about Greenville, NC “the ville” scattered stories of wanting to be a basketball star to realizing his talents as an MC, leaving Greenville for NY to be rap star. It would have been easy for Cole to take the direction of a rap star on this album because he most surely is, but he stayed true to him and made it about what makes him Jermaine Cole, worthy of your time as a fan. Cole didn't brag about the accomadations that come from being a rapper instead he talks about what makes him this rapper versus that type of rapper. This rapper who on “wet dreams” tells us about lying to a potential smash about being a virgin, this rapper who on the track “03 adolescence” tells us how his homeboy checks him for requesting that he “put him on” to which his homie responds how insane the request is because of the potential he sees in a young Cole's life. These humble portrayals are rare at this point in the career of a rapper as big as J. Cole, who sold over 200k his first week when his last album dropped.
To ignore the numbers and try something refreshing and new with no singles, no features, is what adds to the greatness of this album. Not to mention J Cole doesn't let you down with the lyrics at all, and he makes sure he lets his peers know Kendrick, Drake, Krit, Wale and any others that feel they hold the crown that he will be a force to be reckoned with if they want to sit atop the rap game. Overall, the approach Cole took and the music he supplied with project is nothing short of amazing and makes you appreciate the so called good guys of the game. 2014 Forrest Hills Drive surely worth the purchase.