J Cole - “KOD” Track By Track Quick Review

So after 20 hours and four listen-throughs...here are my thoughts on J Cole’s new album...


-Don’t really care for it at all. It reminded me of Kendrick’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” and I thought this album would end up ripping off the aesthetics of K Dot’s album. Fortunately, that assumption was wrong. Though I still don’t care for this track, even as an intro. 


-Actually enjoy this track the most, good hook, dope beat, I like it. This is likely the track that I will come back to most. He uses some trendy flows, but I have no reason to knock him for that.


-At first I didn’t really like the hook, but after listening more, I connect with it...but still don’t love how it was delivered. The beat on this is actually better than I initially gave it credit for. Overall underwhelming, though I do like it more than I did upon first listen.

The Cut Off

-It starts and I immediately don’t like it….I hear a few things I don’t like with the mix. This may be my least favorite track on the project. Kindergarten bars. Poor delivery. Poor hook. Mediocre beat.


-There’s something I like about this beat quite a bit. I like the delivery on this much more than the previous songs. Something weird about the vocal mix here. It’s alright.


-Actually love this beat. The structure, the hook, the mix, the delivery...everything here feels like it was more thought out and better written/planned/executed than the rest of the album.

Kevin’s Heart

-Hearing this back, I love this beat as well. This one also feels more well written and executed than the first few tracks. I didn’t think I liked this track before...but I definitely do. My only real problem with it is that some of the lyrics seem disconnected from each other times. (but maybe I just need to listen back more carefully)


-I thought I really liked this song on my first listen, but upon second listen. There are times where the beat doesn’t quite do it for me. Then the pitched up voice halfway through is annoying to me. The structure seems weaker than before. Though the content on taxes and where that money goes and all that...I really appreciated and connected with that. Really that last ⅓ of the song is what initially sold it for me.

Once an Addict (Interlude)

-I do like the creative mix decisions on this track. As far as storytelling, Cole destroys this track. The beat structure/arrangement lends itself greatly to facilitate and complement the storyline. I think this is a great track, but I don’t know if I’ll come back to it on purpose.


-As soon as it starts, I like it. The pitched down singing thing is just annoying to me, with boring delivery...it ruins it. I like the cadence and flow Cole does with the beat in that first part of the verse. The reverse/chopped names was a cool editing thing to do. There are quite a few things in this track that resonate with me, so I can connect to it. There are parts in the verse that I think are really weak, but others that are very strong. The ending “Meditate don’t medicate” thing is great, in my opinion. Then the kiLL edward thing comes back in and I hate it. This song had so much potential to be one of my favorites. It’s framed structure, interesting deliveries, good/relatable content….but then that kiLL edward shit ruined it for me.

Window Pain

-When Cole comes in with the singing at the beginning...spare me. Just get a good singer to really knock it out. I’m iffy about the beat, tbh. This sounds like the type of J Cole that people can talk shit about. Like, the content is super serious...but like, he’s not delivering it in any new or exciting way than he has before, so it just doesn’t keep my attention or interest.


-The flow is interesting, the beat is interesting, the content is interesting. The beat has interesting panning things going on. The flow is fun but new, the overall style reminds me of Jidenna. I like the delivery. The recording/mix sounds like a bedroom recording (but that’s a pretty constant thing across the album)...but it kinda works on this track really well.



The album as a whole? It mostly feels hastily put together. Between the production, the lyrics, the recording, the mixing, and the vocal delivery all sound like this was a demo for the album. It could easily benefit from a couple months of extra production in the compositions and vocal arrangements...some rewriting to make sure ALL the lyrics are strong...reworking the delivery on certain parts and getting featured artists to execute certain deliveries that Cole just doesn’t due justice...better recording and mixing. 

It sounded like Cole has good messages, good stories, good topics all in a few pretty nice verses and a handful of half-thought hooks/refrains and just put stuff together and called it good enough.  

Some parts I hate. Some parts I love. This had potential to be really good and just fell short for me. Enjoyable, but most of the tracks are forgettable even though the messages aren’t. I can’t remember the tracks individually but I remember how they made me feel. 

Jordan Murphy