J. Cole and the KOD Tour
By Alina Yamin
J. Cole, born Jermaine Cole, is a 33-year-old hip hop artist. He was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he lived with his mother Kay and brother Zach. Cole began rapping at age 12, and at age 15, he decided he wanted to pursue it as a career. He was musically inspired by artists such as Nas, Tupac, and Eminem. Cole was not just musically gifted, but he also excelled academically. He was granted a scholarship to St. John’s University in New York City, where he graduated with a degree in communication and business.
Cole released his debut mixtape, ”The Come Up,” in 2007. In 2009, Cole became the first artist to sign to Jay Z’s Roc Nation label. In the same year, he released his second mixtape “The Warm Up” followed by “Friday Night Lights” in 2010. However, it was not until he released his first album “Cole World: The Sideline Story” with the single “Work Out” that he became widely recognized in the hip hop world. “Work Out” became a hit single and topped several music charts. “Cole World: The Sideline Story” was followed by “Born Sinner” in 2013, “2014 Forest Hills Drive” in 2014, and “4 Your Eyez Only” in 2016. All of these albums were successful; however, “2014 Forest Hills Drive” put Cole on a new level. This album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart upon release and sold 353,000 copies in its first week. It was also the first album to go platinum without a single guest feature since 1989.
This year, Cole released his latest album, “KOD,” on April 20. The album explores topics such as drug abuse, addiction, depression, and greed. “KOD” is an initialism for “Kids on Drugs,” “King Overdosed,” and “Kill Our Demons.” When explaining the different meanings of the album’s title, Cole said, “If I turn on the TV right now, it’s not going to be long before an advertisement pops up that says ‘Are you feeling down? Have you been having lonely thoughts?’ And then they shove a pill in your face the voice says of the ‘Kids on Drugs’ title. The second meaning, ‘King Overdose’ is representing me… the times that I was — and am — afflicted by the same methods of escape, whether it be alcohol, phone addiction, women… Lastly, ‘Kill Our Demons’ represents breaking free of past trauma . . .The first response to any problem is to medicate. ‘Kill Our Demons’ is like, finding that (expletive) whether it be from traumatic childhood experiences, whether it be from a lack of attention, confidence issues, insecurities—whatever it is, we gotta be honest with ourselves.”
“KOD” sold 397,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, earning Cole his fifth consecutive number one album in the country. A month after the release, Cole announced the KOD tour, consisting of 35 shows across North America.
On Sept. 22, Cole performed in Rosemont, Illinois at the Allstate Arena. Cole opened his show with “Intro (KOD),” which led into “Window Pain (Outro).” After these songs, Cole explained the three meanings of the album’s title. This was followed by classics from “2014 Forest Hills Drive: A Tale of 2 Citiez” and “Fire Squad.” After these two, Cole delved into hits from “KOD.”
One highlight of the concert was when Cole asked the crowd who had been a fan of his from the very beginning of his career. This resulted in thunderous cheering and captivating performances of “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Work Out,” and “Can’t Get Enough,” all hits from early stages of the rapper’s career.
The most beautiful part of the concert, however, occurred when Cole stopped singing and gave his fans a heartwarming life talk. He explained that everyone deals with some sort of pain in their life. People carry that weight with them unless they are able to face their pain and deal with it properly. Cole encouraged the crowd to deal with their pain as soon as they can, which is what he is working on himself. The rapper then performed his “favorite song he’s ever written,” “Love Yourz,” which embodies this message. From visually mesmerizing lighting and stage theatrics, hit songs, and life lessons from the rapper himself, the “KOD” tour has it all.