Album Review: 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Written by Valerie Reich

What happens when you shed a moneymaking formula, add personal anecdotes and throw in a mix of instrumental music and digitized beats? You get 2014 Forest Hills Drive.

J.Cole’s third album has sold 371,000 copies in its first week live – more than T.Swift even managed to push in her first week. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is the fastest album to sell in one week in hip-hop for 2014, received rave reviews from across the board and was named #3 on Billboard Magazine’s The 10 Best Rap Albums of 2014.


What makes J.Cole’s third studio album so popular? Hands down the relatability of the music itself. Throughout the 13-track album we see the rapper shed the “be hard be tough” stereotypical persona that comes along with being in the rap game. Cole raps about being young and directionless in North Carolina then moving to New York yet unable to escape the mistakes he's made. He raps about being nervous when losing his virginity, his devotion to God, insecurities with women and overall how he’s grown as a person and within that growing as a rapper. The album ends with a track called "Note to Self" in which J.Cole credits everyone who works on an album, an incredibly humble and appreciative step that most artists wouldn't even consider doing. This only serves to further build a positive image around J.Cole and contributes to the idea that he is a superstar. 

The album lacks any real club bangers, but this is a good thing. J.Cole is bringing art back to rapping. This album is a reflection of growing up is and how no matter how old he is, J.Cole is still growing. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is a map that listeners can use to trace the trajectory of J.Cole’s life. It resonates with everyone who has struggled internally or externally to get where they are today.

One of the best hip-hop albums to be dropped in 2014, Forest Hills Drive is 100% worth a listen and a download.


Top 5 Picks from the Album

(Single-handedly one of the hardest Top 5 Pick’s I’ve ever had to choose between)

1. Wet Dreamz
2. No Role Modelz
3. January 28th
4. Apparently (Check out the official music video here.)
5.  G.O.M.D


Album Facts

2014 Forest Hills Drive was released on December 9th, 2014 under Dreamville, RocNation and Columbia Records. J.Cole produced the album himself along with producer Elite and a team of in-house producers at Dreamville. The album is 13 tracks long and has a run time of 1 hour 4 minutes. 

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