Where to begin? Rapper J.Cole’s third album is brilliant. You have to have an acquired test and open heart, mind, and ear to understand his life story. If you haven’t been following the rapper as he released “Forest Hill” then you probably aren’t aware that Forest Hill is the name of the street where he grew up. Also, in his album art, J.Cole sits on top of the house that he lived in as a young man growing up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. So what do we know so far about this album? We know that he went back to his roots to relive and revive some of the feelings that he had while in NC. But here are the real questions. Who cares about his life and why would anyone want to listen to an album that has no single or radio release?
Forest Hill debut at #1 on the Billboard top 200 selling 371,00 copies in its first week. After that, Cole was barely hanging on to the top 10 being overthrown by Iggy Azalea and Nicki Minaj. Of course, Cole’s cd would sell no matter what he does because of his first 2 studio albums and his countless number of mixtapes. However, Nicki and Iggy took the top stops and many are probably still baffled on how that happened. Many rappers lack what Cole brings to the table which is authenticity. Cole has always dreamt of being a rapper and now that his dream has come true, he isn’t going to let the “commercials” stamp of approval deter him from his path. The term commercial means robotic mainstream media. Mainstream media has become robotic because everything sounds and looks the same. There are certain standards that artists have chosen to follow so that they can be approved by various industries. However, Cole seems to be rebelling against mainstream media standards and creating art that people appreciate and can relate to.
If you’ve heard Cole’s album Born Sinner then you know that Forest Hill has a completely different sound. The sound in Forest Hill is more southern. There’s more grit to the beats and the sound of Cole’s voice. The combination of the instrumentals, beats and Cole’s voice brings a vivid experience to his life and talents. Many have said that they dislike Cole’s newest album it’s uninteresting and “he doesn’t have the passion or flow like Kendrick Lamar.” Hear the 2 issues with a lot of J. Cole’s critics.
#1: His critics are constantly comparing him to other artists like Kendrick Lamar. If you’re going to try and criticize and artists work, focus on the artist and not their competition. As a critic, focusing on an artists competition allows you to misinterpret and misunderstand a artists work.
#2: Most of his critics are looking for a radio single. If you’re an artist who can sell thousands of albums without a radio single then you don’t need one. Radio singles do not make artists true artist. If anything, artists are broken by radio tracks because when their albums are released they fall flat. People don’t always want to hear radio singles. They want honesty and passion and that’s what Cole has given them.
Cole sings more on this album which is a completely different from his previous work. The singing seems to fit this album more because this album is more mild tone than his previous ones. He has various songs that have great philosophies like “Love Yourz” and “No Role Modelz.” Forest Hill is one of Cole’s albums that constantly follows a theme. His underlying theme is what drives everyone in. He flows have gotten better and they are more consistent. This was an amazing project. It’s personal, it allows people to connect with him, and his lyrics provide a picture for everyone to see. There is also a lot of substance to in his album. There aren’t many artists who can say they’ve produced albums like Forest Hill. There’s just no comparison to his sound.
MUST SEE: J.COLE ON LETTERMEN (TRIBUTE TO MIKE BROWN & ERIC GARNER)