Yo, so ya’ll know, every time I get ready to do a review, I have to preface my shit. It’s a must. I do it so I can put you in the correct frame of mind to fully understand everything I’m puttin’ down. The prefaces that you’re about to read will focus specifically on the emotional roller coaster I was on leading up to the release.
So first off, I thought this was going to be a crack album based off the trailer Cole put out, despite the fact that he had absolutely NO music whatsoever in said trailer. ***emotions on 8***
Second…I THEN thought things went wrong when my mans and them told me that the album leaked and Cole was getting clowned on twitter for having a boring album (smh).***emotions on 5***
Thirdly…After we talked about the tracklist on this show (right after the 10:00 mark).I was convinced this shit was about to be stoopid hot. ***emotions on 8.9***
Fourth, I listened to the album and heard
Mos Def Cole on the first track, then the second and third…and was like “damn…I don’t know about this shit…”. For the record, when I first listened, my mind was occupied with some other shit. I wasn’t fully listening. ***emotions back down to a 5***
So this is where I was emotionally, when I finally got a chance to sit down and fully vibe with this album. My expectations had been shot. I was worried that Cole wasn’t going to pull it off (pause).
HOWEVER…ANY true hip hop head knows that my worry was about to be put to bed when I listened to this shit.
HOLY FUCK…<—-that’s my FULL review of the album. If you want a track-by-track breakdown though…keep reading.
Intro – Cole starts this out asking us do we wanna be happy. His voice is cracking over a mellow ass background. It’s the perfect way to set this album off. In addition, it woulda’ been the perfect beat to play at different points of his trailer.
January 28th – So Jan 28th is Cole’s birthday. He keeps the mellow vibe going on the beat, but turns the heat up on the bars…particularly in the second verse. Although, I don’t like the Hov mention or the “New York’s finest line”. Hearing that from a non-New Yorker is always weird to me.
Wet Dreamz – First off, didn’t think he was gonna go in this direction. I actually didn’t know what direction he was going at all, but I’m happy with what he did here. I always respect an artist that can rhyme about topics that are kinda simple, but still make it entertaining. This could’ve easily been a boring song, but it’s not. It’s the opposite, especially if you can relate to lying to the first girl you smashed about your virginal status. #guiltyAsCharged
I had two questions about this song though. 1 – Why is he passing notes instead of texting? 2 – Isn’t there a sample from a Game song in here? Can somebody put me on, because this shit starting to bother me.
03′ Adolescence – For some reason, when this joint starts, I keep thinking I’m about to hear Wale’s Mama Told Me…but I don’t. So Cole sets this off with some Biggie bars and starts talking about a chick he was diggin’ back then (2003). He ends off talking about one of his boys that had to explain to Cole how blessed he was even though Cole thought different. Remember this verse/convo when we get to a different song later in the album. This song is so crack, I can write an entire blog post about it.
For my older heads, if this song doesn’t take you back to that time when you first were confused about what exactly you were going to do with the rest of your life…you might need to listen to it again. As a matter of fact…stop reading this right now and GO LISTEN to this shit.
A Tale of 2 Citiez – Beat hot, yessir. Bars, yessir again. After listening to this shit, I was left like “yo, so what’s the two cities?”. So I listened again (and again) and this is what I came up with…The two cities are symbolic of a broke dude who never made it vs a now rich dude who HAS made it. Cole explains that you can can’t know what each city is about until you experience it. Side note: I’m gettin’ a bit of a Kendrick/3 Stacks vibe on this song as a whole. Anybody else gettin’ that? And did you get the same feel for what Cole meant by the Two Cities? And don’t bring nothing from rap genius over here. I only peep rap genius after an album is old.
Fire Squad – This starts off perfect for me simply because Cole is asking “nigga why you actin’ like a ho”. I like shit like that. By the time he sets the verse off, he’s proclaiming he’s the best to ever do this. When he gets to the second verse, he starts spittin’ to prove his statements from the first verse are verified. By the time the third verse comes around, Cole just loses it. He then finishes off the song with some spoken word about why there will be no more Kings after him. Hot shit.
St. Tropez – I remember when I first heard this, I couldn’t help but hear the sample in the background but I didn’t know where it was from. My dude @dahaitikid put me on though. It’s Mobb’s old school shit. Anyway, another banger here. The message here (found in the hook) is that just because you’ve “never been that high before” it doesn’t make it a good reason not to fly. This goes in line with the whole “chase your dream” theme I’m finding on this album.
I’d like to break stride real quick and back up what Cole is saying here and throughout the album. Chase your fucking dream, my dude. Don’t be afraid to fly. EMA is a dream of ours and we’re living out that dream right now. It’s a beautiful thing that I’d love for everybody to experience. Now let’s get back to the album.
G.O.M.D. – Ha! Fuckin’ love this shit. It was ALMOST my favorite joint on the project. First verse is filled with different lines that had me chuckling like a school girl (like him making the pizza man wait because he’s tryna’ get some buns…good shit). But then the hook dropped and I found out what G.O.M.D. stood for…At this point I raised the decibels on my chuckling. G.O.M.D. is the appropriate response to so many questions/situations in life. When you get to the part that the “thugs skip”, he starts to go in (what is it with this guy and his ability to mincemeat the beat on his second verses?).
No Role Modelz – Cole caught me off guard with this one, because he started by dropping lines about how he wasn’t going to be like his father if he got his girl pregnant. I’m thinking “oh ok, it’s about fatherless sons like I thought”. I realized I was wrong when he started talking about L.A. hos. I’ll quote Cole himself and just let you know that this song is for “real niggas who know”. If that’s you, go listen to the song.
Hello – Another crack beat. Let me repeat…another crack beat. Cole is back on his harmonizing grind here. He’s tryna’ see what’s good with a girl that’s important in his life. I like this song a lot simply because of the melody. I also think Cole left the interpretation of this joint up to the listener (even though the song sounds very personal). How many dudes had to contemplate this type of shit before deciding to be with a girl that you know you SHOULD be with.
Apparently – Ok…I’m diggin’ the piano, the crooning from Cole again, and the content (he’s talking about dreams again). First verse is about his mother and his love for her. I’ll let you guess what happened in the second verse… Here’s a hint: Cole is your phone on zero percent/going off. … …. I’m done.
Love Yourz – So this is the ONE…this is it. My FAVORITE joint on the whole album. This song is fucking crackjuice. The head bobbin’ (pause) you’re about to experience on this one is gonna be retarded. So stickin’ to the dream theme, Cole lets you know “there’s beauty in the struggle”. I wholeheartedly agree with him on this and if you don’t, then we don’t see eye-to-eye. Cole lets you know that there’s “no such thing as a life that’s better than yours”. I wholeheartedly agree with him on this and if you don’t, then we don’t see eye-to-eye. Cole lets you know that “compared to some his niggas down the block, he was blessed”. I wholeheartedly agree with him on this and if you don’t, then we don’t see eye-to-eye.
Note To Self – The Beat creeps in and I’m just like :-). But then it turns out this isn’t a song. It’s Cole shoutin’ his peoples out and giving his thoughts on different things. It’s interesting and funny at the same time. It’s 14 minutes, but worth your listen at least once. Feel me?
Here’s the thing I love about this album. It’s Cole’s ability to be entertaining while still holdin’ us down with crack storytelling, hot bars and rewind value. Because honestly, anybody can do those three things, but they would be boring. And although, this album got called boring by some early listeners on twitter, I don’t see it. I only felt that way when I wasn’t actively focused on the bars when I first listened. But I can’t, AT ALL, listen to this shit and be bored. This album makes me think about mad aspects of my life (past, present and future). It’s very rare that a current rapper can do that for me. Go fux with this album if you haven’t already. If you’re a fan of hip hop, I absolutely guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Note To Self: Dream Big or go the fuck home.