J. Cole teased his new album, KOD, a few nights ago at a pop-up listening party in New York City. KOD, he said, stands for Kids On Drugs, King Overdosed, and Kill Our Demons. He expanded on the album title in a trailer earlier today. A distorted voice, presumably J.Cole’s, confronts KOD’s first translation, Kids On Drugs, “They shove a pill in your face. The first response of any problem is MEDICATE.” This naturally leads into the second theme, King Overdosed, which represents J. Cole’s experience with alcohol and phone addiction, or, “methods of escape,” as he puts it in the video. Kill Our Demons is the album’s mission statement, the “end goal. To face our shit. Realize that we have some shit going on inside.” Tonight the alarmingly short, but highly-anticipated, rollout is over and listeners can hear the full meaning unfold.
The rapper does a good job of being relatable— or, at least as relatable as a famous rapper can be. He writes songs about losing his virginity to a girl in his math class and makes references to The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. People love that stuff. And while drug abuse and cell phone addiction are heavier-hitting topics than Nick At Nite programs and clumsy sex, they’re undoubtedly relatable. That empathy, plus easily digestible rhymes and production, is what makes J. Cole’s albums so popular.
He’s been carving a tradition of going platinum without any features on his last two releases 4 Your Eyez Only and Forest Hills Drive. “Platinum with no features” has become its own meme, practically a platitude among J. Cole fans and anyone within range of rap discourse. Time will tell if listeners are as hungry for his tougher cuts as they were for his “comfort-food rap.” Stream J. Cole’s KOD below.
KOD is out now via Dreamville and Roc Nation.