J Cole’s ‘2014 Forrest Hill Drive’ Tops Billboard 200

hiphopJ_Cole-Be-FreeLast week, Jay-Z’s protégé J. Cole, the first artist he signed to his Roc Nation label, released his junior offering, ‘2014 Forest Hill Drive’.

The album is titled after the North Carolina-bred’s childhood home and the cover art was shot at that home. Two weeks prior to Cole releasing the album, he held a special listening session for fans at the house he grew up in. The St. John’s University graduate invited fans from all around the world, from places such as Las Vegas and even London, to meet him and get their first listen to the follow-up to 2013’s ‘Born Sinner’.

The Hip-Hop album will knock Country singer Taylor Swift out of the number one spot as well as debut at number one.

Swift’s latest album, ‘1989’ debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 1,287,000 copies in its first week and remained at the top spot in its second and third week. In its fourth week, the album was replaced at the top by One Direction’s ‘Four’ but returned to No. 1 again for the fourth time in its fifth week.

This week, J. Cole has topped the Billboard 200 as everything starts to ramp up for the final holiday rush. His ‘2014 FHD’ sold around 355k copies in the opening week, according to HitsDailyDouble. The album would will have the biggest opening week for a rap album in 2014. It’s a great thing when an artist can sell a lot of records on the strength of their talent alone, versus publicity stunts, “crossing over” into another genre or how many big features they have on their album.

The album consists of 13 tracks and no guest features. Cole makes passable albums with memorable singles. “Wet Dreamz” is my favorite track on the album because it reminds me of my early teenage years, when I first started dating and fell in love for the first time. I can relate to Cole’s lyrics on this track because it is a reflection of my first serious relationship. On “No Role Modelz” he explores the disparity between independent Black women and gold diggers. Cole flips the classic rags-to-riches on “03’ Adolescence” and starts to reminisce about how hard he had it growing up only to get a chin check from a friend whose future isn’t half as bright. On “Fire Squad,” Cole calls out White rappers who’ve [allegedly] stolen from Black culture. The song contains numerous lyrical jabs at Eminem, Iggy Azalea and Macklemore.

J. Cole promoted the project with an appearance on the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ last Wednesday. In the light of this year’s controversial deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, involving charges of police brutality, Cole passed on performing a new song off the album, instead giving the audience a powerful performance of the song “Be Free,” with a new unreleased verse.

‘2014 FHD’ is a decent album and the best I’ve heard this year.

DONOVAN MOORE