Jermaine Lamarr Cole, more famously known by his stage name J. Cole, released his third major label studio album “2014 Forest Hills Drive” on December 9, 2014. The St. John’s University graduate, who hails from North Carolina and is signed to rap mogul Jay-Z’s record label “Roc Nation,” offers listeners more of what they have come to love about his artistry, and that is raw lyrics and honest stories.
While keeping the production on the simplistic side, Cole instead focuses on bringing his rap skills to the forefront. Offering not a single guest verse from other artists (as is so heavily relied on nowadays), Cole stands his ground and proves that he is more than able to carry an album on his own and still remain interesting by staying true to who he is and sharing his genuine feelings. Listening to Cole’s album is equivalent to hearing his audio diary, and while many rappers have offered listeners a peek into their life and struggles through their rhymes, few have felt as real and honest as J. Cole.
Cole was very hands on and has had a critical role in crafting “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” as he handled the majority of the production and is credited as the sole writer on all the tracks. This is such a personal project for Cole, that he titled it the address of his childhood home in which he grew up in with his mother, brother and stepfather. The house was foreclosed soon after Cole’s high school graduation. He eventually repurchased it in 2014, making it his first house purchase.
Such willingness to share his story and not be afraid to be corny sometimes, makes Cole’s latest effort a great listen for fans of the genre. For someone to get the attention of Jay-Z and eventually signed to him, he better be a great artist, and J. Cole has proved time and again he is. “2014 Forest Hills Drive” offers great bars paired with harmonizing beats, and further cements J. Cole as one of the game’s most relatable and talented rappers.