“KOD. 3 meanings. Kids on Drugs
Kill Our Demons
The rest of the album I leave to your interpretation.”
J. Cole tweeted this on April 19 prior to releasing his new album, KOD. The rapper’s fifth LP features 12 songs, all of which fuse to tell a succinct story about what I believe is the culmination of addiction and pain through technology in 2018. What is most interesting about KOD is that it is an exploration of many types of relevant pain in 2018.
The 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held on Sunday evening and opened with an appearance by Kendrick Lamar. His performance consisted of a medley with songs like “DNA.” and “XXX.” from Damn. and “King’s Dead” from the Black Panther soundtrack. To accurately describe his performance in words would ultimately futile — though I will briefly attempt to do it anyway. I encourage you to check it out.
Isaiah Rashad has always seemed like a guy caught between two worlds. Back in 2013, the Tennessee native turned heads by signing to Top Dawg Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based label previously exclusive to artists like Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q, rappers raised in the city and deeply indebted to its musical history. And while Rashad operates comfortably in that scene, his blatant reverence for Southern rap and J Dilla-soul mark him as something of an outsider on TDE’s roster. After more than three years on the ever-growing label, the 25 year-old’s role there remains unclear. Even so, he’s one of its most compelling artists — that rare student of rap baring his influences on his sleeve, all the while crafting a signature, vital sound.
I have a confession: I don’t often go out of my way to listen to lyrics. I’m well-acquainted with most of the tunes you might find yourself cranking up a car radio — dad jamz, ‘90s hip hop, any song to which your favorite movie characters once lip-synced. Put me in one of those bar mitzvah recording booths and I will bare my soul to the tune of any MIDI-saturated Celine Dion instrumental. If social interaction requires it, I will belt out some Smash Mouth, or whatever, though I’ll probably end up like this dude from a Clickhole Classic™, boldly making indecipherable noises to a song I heard once at a kid’s birthday party. But when it comes to my day-to-day interaction with music, rarely, if ever, will I go out of my way to hear exactly what it is a songwriter is saying.
On Feb. 15, Kendrick Lamar was unforgivably robbed of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for his superbly produced, lyrically genius, dialogue-inspiring and arresting political concept album To Pimp A Butterfly, which will indisputably be remembered as one of the greatest American hip-hop albums of all time. Also on Feb. 15, Taylor Swift, the most popular woman in the world, deservingly walked off the stage with the Album of the Year Grammy for her immaculately crafted and super-cherished pop opus 1989, to the validation and joy of fan-people everywhere. I find both of these conclusions about what happened at the 2016 Grammy Awards to be equally plausible, and this absurdity is what I think of as the Kendrick-Taylor paradox.
“The 58th Grammy Awards are getting ready to start NOW,” Bow Wow exclaimed, a full minute and a half earlier than he was supposed to. After beaming into the camera for a painful 20 seconds afterwards, he started bouncing around from Grammy attendee to Grammy attendee, instructing them not to be camera shy. After which, he incorrectly claimed that the show was starting two more times, “It’s going down! It’s happening! It’s about that time.
Drake is back and “looking for revenge.” “Summer Sixteen,” the leading single off of his upcoming album Views from the 6, premiered on Jan. 30th on his OVO Sound radio show on Apple’s Beats 1Radio. If Drake was looking to ruffle some feathers before the drop of his new album, he certainly did. From insulting President Obama in retaliation for calling Kendrick Lamar the better rapper to his multiple shots at rival rapper Meek Mill, with whom he has a highly publicized feud about ghost writing — Drake is back. As a Drake fan, I wasn’t disappointed.
Kendrick Lamar’s follow-up to 2012’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city was perhaps the most anticipated album of the year. It seemed impossible that Lamar could equal the accomplishment of his perfect debut. Instead, he blew it away in scope, ambition and depth. Across 16 tracks and nearly 80 minutes, Lamar burrows into complex issues, using his dexterous voice to produce an astounding variety of tones and emotions, from anger to false bravado to introspection to drunken sobbing. The music itself is a history lesson in modern African-American music, blending jazz, funk, soul and classic hip-hop into one omnivorous, fluid sound.