For this weeks Throwback Thursday Post we have a modern classic, 2014 Forest Hills Dr. by Jermaine Cole. This album has aged extremely well in my opinion and only gets better as the years go by, this album started the double platinum with no features meme and will continue to be J. Cole’s best project no question about it. I am very appreciative to have this album in my life in a physical way and a digital way, I have two copies of the vinyl record and going through the physical copy means more to me than a digital copy and a lot of vinyl owners will agree to this. J. Cole is from Fayetteville North Carolina and I am from The Raleigh area of North Carolina which isn’t all that far away from Fayetteville, it’s just a really good feeling to have one of the best rappers of my generation come from the same state and close to your hometown but besides all of that I just wanna say that J. Cole is a personal favorite of mine and that I’ve been a fan since this album all the way to his current projects, this album was the introduction of his music to me and I’ve never missed out since. Let’s get right into this review because I am excited.
“Intro”– The album starts off with a really beautiful introduction track and what makes it beautiful is several things mainly just a production and lyricism but it goes further than that, the production Is masked by a really nice piano and in the background is really subtle sounds of what futuristic technology would sound like with a bunch of sounds of buttons being pressed but this mixed with the poetic set of lyrics he performs makes this one of my absolute favorite introduction tracks off any sort of project. It’s artistic and expressive in many ways so this definitely sets the album up for success right off the bat.
“January 28th”– I had realized this a few years ago when listening to J. Cole and it’s a thought that J. Cole’s voice releases And over abundance of serotonin at least in my head because it’s just the way that he uses his voice and his vocals over these beautiful instrumentals that make me feel this way, J. Cole just knows how to use his voice to his advantage and this track here is a prime example of it. The end of verse 2 on this track is a personal favorite because he raps this “Show me New York’s ladder, I climb it and set the bar so high that you gotta get Obama to force the air force to find it, Never mind it, you’ll never reach that, Cole is the hypnotist, control the game whenever he snap” I’ve always been infatuated with this verse as a whole but specifically this ending for the subtle ruthlessness he portrays. Another verse I love comes at the end of verse three and it goes “Like the great Rakim, when I make my notes You n****s might be L or you might be Kane Or you might be Slick Rick with 19 chains Or you might be Drizzy Drake or Kendrick Lamar But check your birth date n***a, you ain’t the god Nah you ain’t the god N***a, Cole the god, January 28th” I love these few lines because he in a way comes for all these great rappers but in a respectful way it seems like and ends the track by claiming himself as the best ever, amazing.
“Wet Dreamz”– Here we have an absolute classic of a rap song. The track tells the tale of J. Cole clearly he was younger dreaming about a girl and the things that he wishes he could do with this girl in a sexual way, the story goes on and gets very detailed but in my eyes it’s a beautiful story because it captures young love perfectly and certain insecurities that a lot of young men deal with. This track here was probably my introduction to just how great of a songwriter J. Cole is because he painted this picture for me, I don’t need a music video because the lyrics are enough. Whenever this track comes on I have to let it play all the way through because it’s just so perfect and catchy. Records that can portray an important story and remain catchy are forever amazing.
“03’ Adolescence”– I always compared the production on this track to a Disney film because it starts off so calm and harmonious with some very nice and light violines playing as well as various string instruments and also some “la la la”s. I really enjoy this track in its entirety because when he starts rapping he has somewhat of a dark undertone and this is because the production seems so vulnerable and calming but the raps are aggressive and full of important subject matters about envy from a friend, his younger self taking things for granted, self change, etc. Cole has always found a way to pack full many subjects within one track which is why he’s a favorite to many many people.
“A Tale of 2 Citiez”– Here we have another classic. I’ve noticed this with J. Cole albums, he always has one really hard, dark and aggressive track and this happens to be the best out of all of those types of tracks he has. after listening to this track for years and years I realize that what he’s talking about at least in my opinion is being trapped in a toxic environment and virtually having no way out and it makes a lot of sense because that’s what a lot of people are victim to, their environment. There is a lot that goes on in the track, like how he questions if living in the city is such a bad thing, someone who is robbing him saying can you blame me for not having things then proceeds in his theft, the question of “what’s the value of a thing”, and the catchy “hands in the air” to indicate a robbery. The ending is hypnotizing and dark as if it’s coming from some sort of demon, it sounds decent and calming but really the person saying this is trying to hook you into what you’re trying to run from. This track is a masterpiece and deserves to be recognized as one in the eyes of more people, fantastic lyricism and picture painting.
“Fire Squad”– Fire Squad is arguably J. Cole’s hardest track ever and here is my reasoning. This might take some time but I’m gonna try and hurry up, I feel this way because of every verse he says something to really grab your attention such as “My uzi, it weighed a ton, I need me a better gun In fact I just might need two, cause n****s say they the one And I got something to prove Forgive me lord here they come, BLAOOW” from verse one and “One day y’all have to decide, who you gon’ be A scary n***a or a n***a that’s gon’ rule like me Keep it true like me, Cole you might be Like the new Ice Cube, meets the new Ice-T Meets 2 Live Crew, meets the new Spike Lee Meets Bruce like Wayne, meets Bruce like Lee Meets ’02 Lil Wayne, in a new white tee Meets KD, ain’t no n***a that can shoot like me! BLAOOOW!” from verse two and “History repeats itself and that’s just how it goes Same way that these rappers always bite each others flows Same thing that my n***a Elvis did with Rock n Roll Justin Timberlake, Eminem and then Macklemore While silly n****s argue over who gon’ snatch the crown Look around, my n***a, white people have snatched the sound This year I’ll prolly go to the awards dappered down Watch Iggy win a Grammy as I try to crack a smile I’m just playin’, but all good jokes contain true shit” from verse 3. Every single verse on this track has something just either disrespectful or hard to say, whenever I listen to this track it gives me that stink face because I hear so much true information such as white people stealing the sound and what he says about Macklemore but he ends it with saying that it’s a joke although all joke contain true information. this track also brought the idea to me that The crown that everyone is fighting for, “the best to do it”, “the king of rap” that people always fight about is really just the number one on billboard in my opinion, J. Cole ends the track by saying that he’ll take that crown from whoever we think has it and destroy it. Another absolutely unit of a track, perfect.
“St. Tropez”– I’ve always loved this record for the left turn and provides on the album and what I mean by that is just the calming ability it has. The production is very light and easy going as well as the vocals from J. Cole, this is definitely one of his more laid-back tracks which is why it’s a personal favorite for me. He starts off the track by talking about weed and getting high but hence why he doesn’t do it because of the bad trips he has hence “I’ve never been that high before, very bad reason not to go, terrible reason not to go”. The track is relatively short as far as lyrics go, the hook is repeated a lot as well as the sample towards the end but all in all it’s just amazing.
“G.O.M.D.”– Another Classic! I remember listening to this track every day freshman year. This is actually a pretty difficult track to talk about believe it or not, I really don’t know what I can say besides the abundance of energy this track has, the samples are amazing all the way from the vocal samples in the beginning and throughout the track as well as the infamous “from the window to the wall” sample, there isn’t anything bad about the track in anyway.
“No Role Modelz”– This track here is my favorite J. Cole record of all time. The “Martin Luther woulda been on Dreamville” in the beginning of the track just grabs your attention and peaks your interest off rip and keeps you engaged all throughout the track. The track itself is full of so many bars and good harmonies within the hook. The structure of this track exceeds anything I’ve ever heard honestly, I just totally agree that this is one of J. Cole’s best records, the production is gorgeous and full of life, the lyrics are entertaining and out there, but the thing that I think everyone comes here for is the sample of Bush talking about one fooling another then the following from Cole “Fool me one time shame on you, Fool me twice, can’t put the blame on you, Fool me three times, f*ck the peace signs Load the chopper, let it rain on you”, this is one of J. Cole’s most popular lines in my opinion. I will have arguments that this is within his top 5 tracks of all time.
“Hello”– “Hello” has never been that good of a track in my opinion, I think it’s fine, the production is nice as well as the messages that Cole gives through the lyrics but it just has never really given off the best vibes to me.
“Apparently”– I really enjoy the track again for the storytelling that J. Cole provides because throughout the beginning to midway he talks about his mom which is always a good topic to talk about because everybody loves moms but he explains the lack of awareness that he had when he was younger and the things that he involuntarily did to his mom. I’ve always loved this track for the first verse because it’s sweet that he basically dedicated this track or at least the first half to his mom, very heartwarming to see a child come to their senses and maturing to an adult.
“Love Yourz”– Now “No Role Modelz” and “Love Yourz” are definitely Cole’s biggest and best tracks, this one probably more than the other. I’ve seen videos of this track being performed live and it’s definitely tearjerking in heartwarming, I’ve heard the stories of this track saving people’s lives so you can definitely believe just how important this track is for me as a fan and as a person. Music has always had the ability to give comfort and this track is definitely one of those records, it talks about sacrificing all of the good things in your life for success but looking back and realizing that you took the wrong route and that you can’t take it back, growing up with nothing but finding the ability to be thankful because there’s always people less fortunate, and Cole talking about his own personal experiences with his life before fame and after fame and how nothing has really changed if you don’t love and appreciate what you have. The hook is very meaningful and it goes “No such thing as a life that better than yours”. I’ve definitely drawn confidence and inspiration from this track and I continue to this day, it has uplifting properties and just a beautiful message that you don’t find a lot nowadays, just gorgeous.
“Note to Self”– This ends a masterpiece of an album, this track is 15 minutes long but the actual track portion is about 3 and a half minutes and it’s nothing new another gorgeous set of lyrics, production, etc. The rest of the track is basically the end credits of a movie but on a record, Cole just goes all in with the Thank You’s and the list of people he wants to appreciate and talk about which I think is definitely unique and a real good touch to the album, I’ve never heard anyone do this so it’s definitely entertaining, it’s long but as a fan I’m definitely interested in what he has to say for the 11 minutes of instrumental and conversation. The rest of this track is full of a lot of funny moments and a lot of shout outs, if you haven’t listen to all 14-15 minutes of this I highly recommend it because you’ll get some good chuckles in. Great ending to this wonderful album, I can’t stress it enough.
Sorry for making this post so long but my thing is a short post resembles a Music that lacks some content and any sort of musical ability but long posts resemble true art in my opinion, albums like this are full of content for me to talk about but I try not to ramble on but in all honesty it’s hard when you’re talking about an artist so diverse and influential such as J. Cole. Like I said in the beginning of this review this album has aged very well and continues to be the forefront leader of J. Cole’s discography in my opinion but even if you gave me $1 million to point out something bad about this album I would have to pass because this album is just perfect in every way possible but the sad thing is that Cole gets an unnecessary amount of hate which I’ve never understood because he’s just amazing. This album talks about plenty of topics such as self acceptance, self-love, the rap industry, toxic environments, the relationship with him and his mom, young love and a plethora of other topics. I don’t think I’ll ever see the day where I dislike this album, it’s a classic and do you have to do a lot of arguing with me to make me think otherwise but until then it’s a perfect album, 10 out of 10.
Thank you everybody for coming back for another Throwback Thursday Post. If you are not following the blog then I highly recommend it because you’ll get more of these amazing posts, if you are then go ahead and share this with somebody because I am 100% sure that they’ll love it just as much you so make sure you follow and also check out the Tyler’s Music Thoughts Instagram @tylersmusicthoughts. SEE YOU THERE!!!