J. Cole told his fans to meditate, not medicate through 12 soul hitting songs on his latest album, “KOD.”
He released a collection of anthems for those who have a reliance on some type of drug Friday, also celebrated as 4/20.
The annual holiday was adopted for April 20 when California Senate Bill 420, or the medical marijuana program act, passed in 2003.
Released only a week after its announcement, “KOD” reached 64.5 million streams on Apple Music and 36.6 million streams on Spotify in 24 hours.
J. Cole said in album listenings that the acronym KOD has three meanings: kids on drugs, kill our demons and king overdose.
At the end of the first song, named after the album, he names some of the most common and most addictive drugs: power, greed, money, molly – or MDMA – weed, Percocet,
Xanax, lean- or codeine syrup mixed with soda, fame and, “the strongest drug of them all, love.”
He raps about the highs and lows of addiction through the lens of different situations.
For example, in “Kevin’s Heart,” J. Cole talks about numbing the pain and guilt of infidelity in a relationship through drug abuse and how that also hurts the partner.
“At home I look happy as usual. On the road I’m a mack, I’m a chooser. I’m an addict, I’m masking it.”
If he self medicates every time he feels bad for cheating, he will gradually care less about his wrongdoing and his partner’s feelings if she finds out.
“I’m a fake n**** and it’s never been clearer, can’t see myself when I look in the mirror.”
Many of today’s rappers glorify and glamorize addiction, while J. Cole maintained his consciousness as he talked about the reality and ugliness of the issue.
“Friends” anonymously calls out people in his neighborhood that the rapper hopes will recover from addiction.
J. Cole touches on how drug culture was pushed into poor, black communities and explores the growth of one’s addiction.
This is important because the youth hear so much music that indirectly addressed drug addiction from other artists. “KOD” tells Cole’s audience what mind altering substances truly do, unlike songs that suggest daily use is an ideal lifestyle.
“You running from yourself and you buying product again. I know you say it helps and no I’m not trying to offend, but I know depression and drug addiction don’t blend.” He reveals the power of addiction in that people know they are making themselves worse, but continue to mask their pain with drugs and even graduate to using stronger, more dangerous substances to keep up with their struggles.
The album’s cover art is a painting of J. Cole wearing a crown and a king’s robe. Underneath the open robe are children snorting cocaine, drinking lean and smoking weed.
Everyone’s eyes in the piece look lost in the substance they are using.
Although none are identical, each song on the album delves into addictions depths – the temporary happiness of getting high and extended use causing one to adopt that state of mind as their normal.
He relates to users of many different substances and levels, especially in regards to the black community in which drugs are a common coping mechanism and constant use is a desired way of living for many.
J. Cole is known for his songs about life’s hardships and love, but reemerged with stories of how he really coped with situations.
Tyler Evains can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.