2014 Forest Hills Drive Review


AJ Foegen, Online Editor

After famously challenging Yeezus with, Born Sinner, J. Cole looks to stay hot with his third studio album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Coming just 18 months after his sophomore album, Cole opted not to release a single before dropping the album, instead having it all drop at once.

FHD starts off with a silky smooth intro track that sets the tone for the rest of the album, with a more soulful side of Cole’s showing through. It’s not all “singing” and “dreaming”, though; the album itself has a fantastic flow from track to track, with a great balance of dazzling lyricism, soulfulness, and both darker and lighter sounding  works throughout the album.

Cole’s lyrics show off a brilliant mix of humor while also touching some political issues as well. Tracks like Wet Dreamz, seem reminiscent of a Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool-style storytelling and flow, while others take more of a Kanye West-esque sampling style to the foreground (G.M.O.D.). The lyrics never fail to entertain, with Cole taking jabs at the Grammy’s in Fire Squad: “…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,” as well as a hilarious sample from George W. Bush that he manages to fit perfectly with his song.

FHD doesn’t just shine in its lyrics. Cole’s production shows through on tracks like G.M.O.D. and St. Tropez, while both being stylistically different, are excellent in their own right. No two tracks sound too similar to each other, keeping the album feeling fresh each time you listen through. The hard-hitting A Tale of 2 Citiez is a track that is wonderfully contrasted with Love Yourz, featuring a peaceful yet catchy piano riff in the background of a much more mellow J. Cole.

2014 Forest Hills Drive is finished off with Note to Self, session more than 14 minutes in length of Cole thanking anyone and everyone who had a part of the album to a very peppy and enthused wall of horns in the back, hoping to go out with a bang.

Throughout the album, J. Cole comes off as a little more confident than he probably deserves to be, but I could care less (unlike some) as long as the album sounds great, and that’s exactly what he does. J. Cole’s decision to drop the album without a single was a great one, allowing everyone to take in the album as a collective whole rather than just beats and pieces. While there aren’t many standout tracks in the album, Cole’s ability to make it all come together gives a new meaning to the saying, “A whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” If you haven’t bought it already, 2014 Forest Hills Drive should definitely be considered as one of your first purchases of 2015.