J. Cole is developing a reputation in the music industry for his devout dedication to activism portrayed through his choice of song lyrics. His new album, KOD, is a continuation of this theme first regaled on his 2016 release, For Your Eyez Only. With three different meanings associated with KOD, Cole is able to dive deep into various societal issues near to him, exploring Kids On Drugs, King OverDosed, and Kill Our Demons.
The 42 minute album spans across 12 tracks, delivering a cornucopia of commentary on issues such as depression, gun violence, infidelity, and dependency on money, drugs, and sex. Cole steps into the government fray with the song “Brackets”, taking the issue of excessive taxation to task. “Photograph” warns of the dangers of letting social media dictate relationships.
Without coming across as overly preachy, Cole sets out to encourage listeners to avoid drugs. The song “Once an Addict” is a manifestation of his own mother’s issues with addiction and the problems that caused in their relationship. Cole has spent considerable time in the past rapping about losing friends to addiction and this album does not stray from that message.
Throughout the heavy talk of the album, Cole makes it clear that his album is a warning and not a glorification of substance abuse. The vividly striking album cover contains the disclaimer that the music is not intended to glorify addiction. When listened to intently, the message becomes clear that this album run counterpoint to the many celebratory themes of this culture often depicted by the music of Cole’s peers. KOD is Cole’s fifth studio album and his first since November 2016.