He did it again. Out of nowhere Jermaine has decided us fit and worthy to bless us with another album from nowhere, Christmas came early and I hate that I might have to start reassessing my favourite hip-hop album of the year because he decided to f*ck with me. Not only that but I’ve been listening non-stop to “False Prophets” and “Everybody Gotta Die” so safe to say I been gassed.
So we gotta get to nitty gritty and see exactly how much he’s given 4 our eyez only…
First things first, the production has grown. That’s the best way to describe it really, nothing’s changed, it’s still Cole, Elite, Ron Gilmore and company, but you can hear how emphasis has grown from synthesised to live instrumentation. Now granted, that’s not as big as the difference between “Born Sinner” and “2014 Forest Hills Drive” but it’s still a nice level of growth.
Cole and his team have managed to balance what I call the “winter effect”…basically something that sounds cold but still comfortable, like an audible goose downer. This is an album to suit the season, there’s nothing here that sounds like a summer banger and Cole has never needed to go down that road to me but this definitely shows he’s getting real nice in his lane. Oh and for you Bryson Tiller fans…Cole did it better, sorry not sorry…you’ll see what I mean about 10/15 minutes into the album. Plus we hear Cole bring a bit of funk to the table with “Foldin’ Clothes” with a sprinkling of some Isley sounding soul, well done Jermaine, I see you there.
Number two like a tale of cities, we gotta discuss bars. Now we all know Cole can spit, that’s a well established fact, there’s a reason we talk about him and Kendrick like the new Biggie and Pac (seriously tell me we’re not gonna be still discussing who’s better years later like those two…) As a result I’m not going to talk so much on the quality of his lyrics more the content and stories told. Truth be told this album contains better anecdotes than Forest Hills Drive, simply because that album was one long narrative, a great one don’t trip but this one gives us smaller more invested stories to keep on the sideline as little what if’s and sequels to the pseudo-biopic that was his previous album.
It’s quite a sobering dichotomy presented between tales of looking forward to his first child and running from fights to find out the next morning his friend had died from the same bullets they fled. We also hear Cole still singing, and quite frankly having watched the documentary “Eyez” and watching him play instruments, knowing he rhymes, produces I will make a comparison I do not make easily…He’s the Prince of hip-hop.
Reason being, just as Prince did everything himself Cole is the same, he plays, raps, produces and his singing isn’t really that bad so as far as complete musicianship goes in hip-hop for what I know of this current generation Cole is the most well rounded.
He’s changing the way people see their releases, he doesn’t put himself outside of his music publicly and he along with a select few is setting a new standard for music period, not just hip-hop. Plus Prince let him sample “Diamonds and Pearls” so we know he approved of him already…that’s a pretty big compliment.
Thirdly the big question…is this better than Forest Hills Drive? Honestly I don’t know…Eyez is a great album, that’s for sure, this to me is the settled album. He’s finally found where he sits, he knows it works and he’s building on it. It’s not worse than Forest Hills though, he’s maintaining a high standard here, do I think this could be the best hip-hop album this year? It’s in the conversation for sure but it hasn’t bodied the year’s releases like Forest Hills Drive did.
This is a solid project, it’s got some good stand out songs, it’s efficient, honestly I’d have liked it to be a little longer but 10 tracks of quality is better than 16 of erm ok, pretty good. Much better to be selling dope than mediocre.
So Cole if you’re reading this…thank you, congrats on the kid and keep it coming man, need to see you on tour again dude.
For now, check out the documentary. Until next time homies.