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Cole Delivers On Record-Breaking KOD

The real is back, the Ville is back. Legendary North Carolina rapper J. Cole burst back onto the scene last…

The real is back, the Ville is back. Legendary North Carolina rapper J. Cole burst back onto the scene last week after a relatively quiet year, releasing his 4th full-length studio LP titled KOD. After an action packed three days, which included two international pop-up shows and a series of exciting tweets, the album was finally released on all major streaming platforms on Friday, April 20th (international stoner day, hint hint). Buckle up, my friends, because there’s a lot to unpack here.

The three alternate album titles, Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed, and Kill Our Demons, along with the artwork – which features children snorting cocaine, sipping lean, and smoking weed – pointed to the album being a critique of todays youth drug culture. While addiction and substance abuse are major themes of the album, KOD lacks specific direction and is not solely based on these issues. The project is more so general social commentary, with Cole flittering back and forth between a litany of deep and timely topics. The combination of the cover artwork, the 4/20 release-date, and title themes are misleading. There’s far too much going on in KOD for a concrete storyline to come to light.

While online theories are entertaining and partially correct, they still don’t account for the many conflicting portions of the album. Take kiLL edward, for example, who is listed as the album’s lone feature but is actually Cole’s drug abusing alter-ego (when edward speaks, it’s a heavily filtered version of Cole’s voice). It would be all well and good if, as theorized online, edward is the evil king of the rap game attempting to lure Cole to the dark side and join the youth in their reckless and hedonistic behavior. Throughout the album, Cole fights off edward with all of his might and eventually kills him (so they say online). But edward only has a minimal presence on the album; he’s only featured on two songs. The entertaining back and forth that could have been never comes to fruition and ultimately, the theme falls short of its full potential.

 
To complicate matters further, it’s nearly impossible to tell when Cole is speaking from his own perspective or that of someone else. Take the track “KOD,” for example, which, flow-wise and production-wise, is a slapper. Cole starts the track with lyrics that are undoubtedly from his own perspective, as he’s known for going platinum twice before without any features: “How much you worth? How big is your home? How come you won’t get a few features? I think you should? How ’bout I don’t?” Later on the track, however, Cole, who doesn’t even smoke weed, brags about sipping lean: “Yeah, at this shit daily, sipped so much Actavis I convinced Actavis that they should pay me.” Is this kiLL edward speaking? Is this Cole speaking from the perspective of another rapper? It’s impossible to tell. All of this is rapped in Cole’s normal voice, implying that it’s not coming from kiLL edward’s perspective.

Only a few bars later, Cole spits a line that is again inarguably personal: “Platinum disc and I own masters, bitch, pay me.” If Cole wanted to make a themed album, he should have either rapped any lyrics that didn’t apply to himself using edward’s distorted voice, or, he could have simply listed edward as a feature on any track that contains lines from Cole’s alter-ego perspective and let the fans decipher which lines apply to whom. Cole reached in his attempt to make a themed album and convoluted an otherwise great body of work. Based on the twelve tracks that make up this project, he should have given the album a more general title and a piece of artwork.

Album theme aside, KOD is a moving and highly educational body of work. To piggyback off of Charlemagne Tha God’s joke, The ROC should be changed to the T.E.D. because the amount of knowledge Jay-Z and Cole consistently give to the people is astounding. On the closer, “1985,” Cole responds to criticism he’s received from Lil Pump with some informatory, simultaneously scorching, bars:

One day, them kids that’s listening gon’ grow up
And get too old for that shit that made you blow up/Now your show’s lookin’ light cause they don’t show up/Which unfortunately means the money slow up/Now you scramblin’ and hopin’ to get hot again/But you forgot you only popped ’cause you was ridin’ trends/Now you old news and you goin’ through regrets/‘Cause you never bought that house, but you got a Benz.

Like “1985,” the album is full of must-listens. On the “Once an Addict” interlude, Cole describes the anguish and guilt he felt as a teen watching his mother struggle with substance abuse. On “The Cut Off,” he explores toxic, one-way relationships that he’s been forced to end. On “Friends,” he pleads with other companions of his struggling with addiction, promising that there are healthier ways to overcome systematic-oppression-induced anxiety and depression. The stories and messages on KOD are far more important than its production, which is percussion heavy and melodically muted – this is in stark contrast to some of Cole’s older, glossier, sample-laden projects such as The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights.

 
Cole did what he does best on KOD, summing up complex and poignant topics with conciseness and clarity. While some argue that his work is overly simplistic, it’s important to keep in mind when listening to a Cole album that it’s just that, an album, and not a graduate school thesis. To convey his thoughts in such an articulate manner over just 42 minutes, as he does on KOD, highlights his underrated talent as a wordsmith. More importantly, Cole again achieved his primary goal: to educate, inspire, and lead as many people as possible through his selfless works of art. It’s officially a Cole spring, and the official closing track title, “1985 (Intro to The Fall Off”),” hints that it may indeed be a Cole summer too.

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#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don’t Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

Mark Spratley is a name in the industry you certainly should get acquainted with. A master of many, creating an…

Mark Spratley is a name in the industry you certainly should get acquainted with. A master of many, creating an entity in so many different lanes within the industry from management, PR, writing, events, curation and much more. Within 5 years of the industry, Sprat has accomplished what takes many 20-30 years. The young 27 year old mogul is creating an empire before our eyes and it only seems to be getting more and more impressive. Why wouldn’t it?! From helping to bring artists such as Lud Foe, DDG, DaBaby, Smooky Margielaa, Albee Al, Sicko Mobb, Nikko Lafre and many more to the limelight, his resume is vast.

Take a look at our most recent interview with the Starting Five CEO as we discuss music, how to get in the industry, his journey and much more.

Make sure to follow Sprat on Twitter and IG @SpratFool

You’ve been in the music industry for only 5 years and have already created something massive. How did you do it and what is planned for the future?

Countless hours, grind, plotting and studying. I’ve learned and LVL’d UP. That’s it. I knew if I put in the work I would find a way. I go 3000% for what ever I do or whoever I work with. Some people make the same moves and expect things to change. Some people aren’t willing to starve in order to binge forever. I’m out here mastering and succeeding at whatever I do. I make sure of it. I’ve got an insane ear for music, that’s been known. That’s why some of your favorite A&R’s would be asking me to pull up to their office on the regular.

I’m here to takeover though. I’m going to continue to put people into position and continue my brand. The empire is forming, the foundation has been laid and built.

We recently saw in another interview that you have a new platform on the way? Whats the details on that? (If you can give us any)

NEW DAY, NEW WAVE (LITERALLY). Zias (Popular youtube star &influencer) and myself are partnering up on a new media outlet x platform for something special. We’re about to surpass the field quick. Two powerful influencers, we already got the traffic between the both of us, both widely connected. Run it up!

Bunch of content on the way from the both of us

If you could tell someone looking to get into the industry one piece of advice, what would it be?

GRIND SMART. Bring something to the table. Your passion and time can go a long way. Learn. Be willing to do what the next man is not.

You know how much free time and work I gave out to get to where I am now?! Now my time costs. Money isn’t everything in the beginning, work for your opportunity. People worried about $20-$5000 (Short term money) when sometimes you just need to see the bigger picture.

You wouldn’t want everyone to bring ketchup to the BBQ, you need someone to bring the bun, the burger, the juice, the drink and everything else. You feel me?! Same goes for the industry or any job you do in life. Bring something different to the table and create a demand for it. That’s when you create stock for yourself (You create worth).

What were you doing before becoming a music mogul?

I was doing the school thing before I decided to leave for music full time. I was making money however I needed to.

What new artists do you have your eye on?

NEW SIGNINGS on the way. I’m getting back in my artist bag 3000%. Look out for all of that. I got to hold my list down for the time being.

How did you get into PR?

Fresh Moss and Neako had me on a lot of PR type of moves early. I always studied and noticed was was going on in the game. Got tired of hitting up a lot of these foolish and corny “Bloggers” and people that were out and around at the time that felt entitled. A lot of them aren’t even around anymore haha. Many didn’t want to see someone else moving faster or really making something out of all this. I decided to take everything into my own hands. From then on I turned this PR wave into something masterful. Countless artists have popped off since through my PR, their ability and me connecting these dots on the daily.

Top 5 modern artists most likely in your daily music mix?

It all depends on the day and mood

Lately… DaBaby, pre kai ro, Lil Baby, YNW Melly, Stunna 4 Vegas & DaiDough. I’ve been bumping FBG Duck heavily as of late, bro got energy.

A few artists are rising up out of New Jersey that you’ve been alerting us about for over a year or 2. From Daidough to Coi Leray and many more. New Jersey has some talent for sure, how do you think your state will hold up in 2019?

New Jersey is UP right now and it’s only going to get crazier. A lot of artists doing their thing. Daidough got home and been going stupid. Coi Leray has been spazzin since G.A.N.

Albee Al doing him as always, Tsu Surf home and just dropped a fire project, Arsonal on damn TV, Fatboy SSE is outta here and in his own lane, Mir Fontane been putting in work. Jersey got a wide variety of sounds, every city/town is different, North and South Jersey completely different.

Beyond the artists there are so many talented people coming up out of NJ and doing their thing in this music industry or elsewhere. It’s great to see people winning from your home state.

We remember you going crazy at SXSW with Smooky Margielaa a few years back when he was only an artist with a 10k following, how did you all meet?

Shitt my man Mike had told me I had to bump something while we was in LA. The track happened to be ‘Layed up’, heard it and it was a wrap for me. His mans was GRAPE, we was all in LA, so we all linked up at the apartment, vibed and got to work immediately. Started putting in that push, went to SXSW and went full force after SXSW. Glad to see Smooky up right now.

We dove into your Twitter and did a little google search on you while doing some more research. We saw you got into it a little with Akademiks online last year? LOL, tell us more?

LMAO! If you did some research like you said I’m sure you know what was said. Jersey people certainly don’t tolerate bullshit. I called BS on something he spoke on. Jersey got behind it. That’s it.

What ever happened to Nikko Lafre?

Man I can’t speak on another man that’s not with me. We definitely had something crazy growing, that’s where I’m going to leave it.

Drew Love out here winning though with THEY, Lee Beats out here winning, Johnny Rain out here still doing his thing up.

#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

Thoughts on R Kelly latest situation and documentary?

SHEESH! I don’t want to believe it but it’s their right before our eyes. It’s a shame because his music and voice is absolutely legendary. I feel as though 60 Minutes would have been a more credible platform to present this problem to the world instead of a Lifetime documentary. I’d like to hear R Kelly voice his defense for sure but regardless his actions are sickening. We’ll see how it taints his legacy, it is 2019 so who knows.

2019 plans?

REGULATE

#Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire #Interview Mark Spratley AKA @SpratFool Is Proving You Don't Need Clout Tokens To Solidify A Musical Empire

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James Seville’s Jamesville Is An Honest Slice Of Alt-Hip-Hop Vibes

Having first got onto New Orleans-born artist James Seville after he dropped his first release via streaming networks, Beta, he’s…

Having first got onto New Orleans-born artist James Seville after he dropped his first release via streaming networks, Beta, he’s been an exciting artist to watch grow. The initial taste of his sound provided a diverse base of alternative Hip Hop potential, and as he’s grown, the music has only become more personal, and — whether intentional or not — refined. His first official release, which comes after a string of one-off singles (which we were here for), Jamesville is an exciting blend of vibes that perfectly encapsulate the new waves blurred lines between bar-centric traditionalism and melody-driven bops.

“I open up a lot and talk about things that have helped me grow throughout the years…losing my dad, dropping out of school, falling in love, falling out of love, drinking, drugs [etc.],” James told N.O.-based Off Beat Magazine this past summer. “I like to make music that is genuinely good, and that people of all ages can enjoy. Rap music that you and your mom can bump together.”

It’s this universality and approachability that makes this latest body of work so enjoyable. With his late father being a blues musician, and having grown up engulphed in the iconically jazzy sound of “N’Awlins,” James music has this unique approach. It’s a melting pot of vibes, brimming with emotion — yet acutely aware of its contemporary appeal. This can be seen by contrasting the infectious groove of “The Kids Will Be Fine” with the sure-shot hit-appeal of “Send2Me” — which will be seeing a visual treatment this month — and “Margarita” featuring Shvkiel.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BuetCVqlyKp/
 
The project kicks off with a playful vibe, with “Career Day” — complete with a skit that put us in mind (spiritually) of Kanye’s critically acclaimed debut, College Dropout. The tongue-n-cheek- theme of fuck school take your own path isn’t religiously adhered to (at least in a straight forward sense), but does carry over in the second song, “School Spirit,” which features Ayomari (an artist we’ve had on our radar for a while now).

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bn_mRWcAatI/
 

“I am inspired by a lot of older New Orleans musicians,” he told DNO magazine in an interview. “My mom always took me out of school and brought me to Jazz Fest ever since I can remember … I met Allen Toussaint when I was nine-years-old.”

This impending sense of making his dreams a priority is felt on the album, as is this gloss of smokey grooves that make it immediately likable. With James recently revealing that he is becoming a father this August, there is feeling that things go in full-circle. Jamesville is an encapsulation of his road up to this point; an excellent opportunity to orient yourself for what he has coming next. “I haven’t stopped smiling since Jamesville came out,” James admitted via Instagram. “I hope y’all are enjoying it.”

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Sol Patches’ Album Serves As A ‘Love Letter’ To The Trans Community

Last year on Giving Tuesday (November 27),  New York-based, Chicago-born-and-raised multi-disciplined artist Sol Patches launched GoFundMe campaign to assist with…

Last year on Giving Tuesday (November 27),  New York-based, Chicago-born-and-raised multi-disciplined artist Sol Patches launched GoFundMe campaign to assist with the costs of gender-affirming medical processes.

“Bearing markers of both gender non-conformance and black racialization, my being is constantly under scrutiny,” she wrote about about the campaign. “With increasing anti-trans policy pressure from the state, not to mention the mind-boggling violence endured by black trans women daily, urgency is ingrained into my survival.”

Sol Patches is seeking $10,000 for medical costs, of which she’s raised more than $8,800 in the first two months of the campaign.

“I am endlessly thankful for my chosen family of siblings, mentors and loved ones for supporting me in my transition up until now, and I’m deeply grateful for every contribution,” she wrote.

In early 2018, she released her second full length project, titled Garden City, which she described as “a love letter written in music for trans people, we who dream and live to unlearn-creating in a field that denies our very existence.”

Garden City could call to mind The Garden State, New Jersey, but Sol explained the album title refers to many different things.

“One of those is the idea of a garden city first made its way to the books, in Europe when folks were trying to create utopias – the Utopian Movement,” she said. “One of the cities was supposed to be about gardens and having a city. So like, having the intersections of farming and plants and all that stuff with a city aspect. But eventually it was corrupted. A lot of rich people saw value and profit to be made, and it ultimately crumbled. So it’s definitely inspired in that tradition.”

 

Sol Patches also said the Garden City title has a Chicago connection, as the city’s seal includes the Latin phrase “Urbs in Horto,” or “City in a Garden.”

“I was also working with this brilliant poet and singer and creator (Chaski), and we were talking about the abandoned lots in Chicago and talking about how those deeply have affected us,” Sol explained. “It’s always been so inspiring when I think about growing up on the South Side and the West Side, and there not being many well-put-together playgrounds… And how folks made these lots a place of many happenings. And so that at its core is what inspired the LP.”

Garden City was released in early 2018, nearly two years after Sol Patches’ previous full-length As 2 Water Hurricanes, which boosted her profile in the Chicago music scene – particularly within the DIY community – landing her features in the Chicago Reader and South Side Weekly.

“As 2 Water Hurricanes was first ever project that I released, and I wrote it at a time where there were so many protests and calls-to-action in Chicago,” she said. “I was also involved in those actions and organizing those. And at the same time I was young as hell – I’m still young as hell – and it was written from the perspective of a genderqueer kid, who doesn’t know if they’re gonna make it past 18. And Garden City is more so like the aftermath. And how do I not die for my people, how do I live for the various people, who’ve given all they can to help support me. Like, how do I live for them? So that’s the tone I think, that shows the difference.”

 

Sol said during the time leading up to Garden City, she improved on their technical abilities as a producer and sound engineer. She produced most of the record, with additional production from her sibling Eiigo Groove, as well as Chaski (who also executive produced the album), Eve Carlstrom and Little Bear. The record also features collaborations with artists such as Rich Jones, Plus Sign, Ano Ba, Sasha No Disco and Mykele Deville.

Garden City wasn’t the only release Patches delivered in 2018. In late May, she quietly put out a more experimental project, titled Blue Transitions.

Blue Transitions, even more so than her previous work, is a freeform expression of art and identity. Sol Patches is working on re-releasing that project, which is expected to be released on most streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music.

Lead photo by: Chaski

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Marcoof500 – “Marco The Merchant” #Review

From the onset of his debut project, 2018’s The Travels Of Marco, Marcoof500 — an entrepreneur in every sense of the…

From the onset of his debut project, 2018’s The Travels Of Marco, Marcoof500 — an entrepreneur in every sense of the word — the Virginia upstart has been feeding his extremely loyal cult following with a steady slew of releases. Since that initial warning shot, he dropped the 4-song Kitchen Chronicles EP, which featured (among other things) the song “10 O’Glock” — a record he’s chosen to make the cut for his latest LP, Marco The Merchant.

The nine-song affair is an exciting blend of stylistic elements with varying degrees of commercial viability and earworm appeal. “10 O’Glock” for example has this vintage No Limit appeal to it sonically, that grow on you with Marco’s bars and loud, but noteworthy adlibs like “fuck Trippie Redd,” or the “Left-right uppercut that ends the song off.”3

While he uses a familiar formula on a number of the songs — that still manage to work — like the piano-driven “500k,” it’s when he puts his marketability on display that you get a full spectrum of his vision. “Pesos” is a definite standout, with an instrumental that sounds ripe for a YG feature. It’s one of the sole records that you could easily hear at the club, or within a mix show format, with its repetitive chorus that you’ll find yourself singing throughout your daily moves.

Another surprisingly flame emoji record is “Designer,” which we found ourselves returning to throughout the past week. Over the blown out bass of the lo-fi banger, he finds his footing and keeps the flow steady, with a razor-sharp barrage of bars that is perfectly encased by the soundscape.

With his label 500entertainmentllc and a track record of having toured as far as Japan, he’s clearly defined his lane and is keeping his overall aesthetic on the right track. Even when his material works harder to merely fit in with the wave, it manages to swim with the best of them — but when he’s hot, he’s hot. His journey is exciting to witness, and by intertwining it into his music, he’s giving his music not just a personal touch, but an inspirational gloss for a generation of new listeners and artists looking to see who ultimately floats to the top.

Whether it’s on some smooth Valee-esque vibes, or if it’s on some darker street fare like “Will They?” there’s a sense of authenticity that shines through. Marcoof500 is that dude!

Take Marco The Merchant for a spin, below.

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#IndieSpotlight: Mr2theP Emerges With Two New Singles

For South California born emcee Mr2theP, it all started in the trenches as a battle rapper. He grew up living...

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