7.5/10

J Cole is a rapper who often professes his wit, his charm, his smarts and his belief in himself as being insanely different and separate from the rappers that have preceded him and currently create in this modern day.

Cue 2014, and cue another J Cole album for his ever growing fan base. The album aptly titled ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’, is in reference to his mothers former house, of which was foreclosed a while back, which, funnily enough he bought back as a form of retribution for not helping his mum when she needed it, AND is the house J Cole is sitting on in the album cover. Keeping that in mind you would probably expect the album to follow a sort of linear progression, from his childhood days to his developed and well versed disconnection with the current state of music. The first half of the album starts off incredibly strong instrumentally, lyrically and thematically, with the simple and raw “intro” to the introspective track about his first sexual encounter “Wet Dreamz” and the spitfire, politically aware contender for track of the album “Fire Squad”. The album slows down considerably in the second half with plain and forgettable instrumentals backdropping his now well utilised and quite interesting crooning voice on tracks like “Hello” and “Apparently”.

This album finds its flaws with the aforementioned lack of logical linear progression and commitment to its presupposed theme. His mothers house is mentioned once and never again on “Apparently”. That being said, it is largely a very solid album and perhaps his strongest yet. His flow is confident and his production and instrumentals, while maintaining a simplicity, are well developed at times, best exemplified in the standout track “A tale of 2 Citiez”. J Cole has always claimed to be smarter, more aware and more talented then his competition, this album may just be the start of these claims coming to fruition.