“This album is in no way intended to glorify addiction,” is written above that crown J. Cole wears where he is painted as a king. Inside his flowing robes a variety of people do different types of drugs. On the back of the album are pictures of kids with beaming smiles staring cartoonishly at an attractive array of drugs that look finger-licking good. No one told you J. Cole was going to be subtle. This motherfucker is about as subtle as a forest fire. It’s the motherfucking point.
Songs like “Photograph” need to exist now of days. The next generation suffers with severe social anxiety. If you listen for a second, you’ll hear them talk about it. In fact, they don’t shut the fuck up about it. And once you actually listen, you’ll realize it’s not entirely their fault. Anyone with their tech at their age would fall in love with pictures of people before meeting them. But when push comes to shove, when the real social interaction takes place, it’s just too fucking much. Fuck it, it’s just easier to stay home. “Cut Off” introduces the character “kiLL edward” which is J. Cole’s personification of a drug addict. “Kevin’s Heart” is a love song to drugs. “BRACKETS” is about a journey up through different tax brackets. Dude is paying about 40–55 percent of his income to into taxes. Ya, that’s a lot. He’s part of this section of people that gets taxfucked. Rich but not rich enough. Cardi B says it best. “Friends” gets down to business. kiLL edward comes back to talk about some issues surrounding drugs and those who take them: upbringing, mental health, trauma, childhood. All that fucking shit we all love and push down into a black hole until it rots.
He’s not subtle but that’s alright. It makes sense. When I first listened to this album, I didn’t like how heavy handed it was. But this motherfucker is talking about drug life. It’s alright to be dramatic when the shit is dramatic as fuck. Also, part of the rap scene is like a WrestleMania dialogue. There’s a reason why superhero movies and rap are popular at the same time. They’re doing the same fucking thing. Take a small idea and blow it the fuck up. Create over the top characters in order to analyze their themes. This shit ain’t modern. What do you think the Greek Gods were? What the fuck do you think Samson was? J. Cole is literally a drug god on the front of this cover. At the start of “Motiv8” on this album is a sample saying, “You really wanna know who Superman is?” This is an over the top and in your face image of drug use. At first it may seem insensitive to make a superhero that loves taking drugs called kiLL edward. But at least J. Cole is trying something. He created a character for us to hate and analyze and he drew his own face on it. Dude’s got balls the size of melons.