And they say you can’t go home again. Following 2011’s Cole World: The Sideline Story and 2013’s Born Sinner, Jermaine Lamarr Cole, aka Roc Nation rapper J. Cole, has returned to his childhood home in Fayetteville, North Carolina on his new, third album: 2014 Forest Hills Drive. The release is a concept record about how a boy discovered his purpose, written from the perspective of a superstar rapper questioning the facets of fame.
It is a meditation on the value of love relative to worldly success. And it is an extraordinary work from an artist who continues to grow and create. The narrative is a tale of Cole’s and also serves as a series of metaphors that complete a story of passion, growth and ultimately reflection. It’s an album to ingest as a whole with the sum of its parts creating the full tale.
2014 Forest Hills Drive does more than immortalizes an address in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It speaks to a progression in a young life emotionally and also from a socio-economic vantage point. From an all black trailer park in cramped quarters to a two-story house on a tree lined street with a carport and bedrooms for each family member.
As the years and jobs of his mother improved so did the living situations and therefore the openness to get creative. With the new private bedroom coupled with a growing interest in rap music fueled by one summer-long visit by a cousin from down south who ushered in No Limit style hip hop the seeds of the future rapper were there.
The songs create a narrative and the mood varies from song to song. He wants success (“Fire Squad”), he sees growth (“A Tale Of 2 Citiez”), gets deep on storytelling (“‘03 Adolescence,” “Wet Dreamz”), hits bumps (““G.O.M.D.,” “No Role Modelz”) and comes full circle to what it all means to him and the notion of love (“Apparently,” “Love Yourz”). Welcome to 2014 Forest Hills Drive.
J. Cole 2014 Forest Hills Drive Track Listing:
2. January 28th
3. Wet Dreamz
4. 03' Adolescence
5. A Tale of 2 Citiez
6. Fire Squad
7. St. Tropez
2. No Role Modelz
5. Love Yourz
6. Note to Self