Forest Hills Drive is the address of J. Cole’s childhood home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he grew up before moving to New York City for university. While at university in 2003 Cole’s childhood home was foreclosed on. In 2014, the rapper re-bought the house, marking Cole’s first home purchase. Cole draws inspiration from the location where he first learned to write poems and delivers a brutally honest outlook on fame and life.
In an interview with Complex Magazine, Cole discusses some of the albums concepts: “It’s crazy that I chose to record it in Hollywood because it’s such a “fuck Hollywood” album. Being out there maybe contributed to [me thinking], “I’m bugging. There’s some shit that’s way more important than how many albums I sell and if I’m the best.” J. Cole does not just make statements like this he actually follows thru and proves that there are more important things than just Hip-hop by giving back to his community and allowing a family to live in his house for a couple of years to get on their feet.
On 2014 Forest Hills Drive, J. Cole not only tops his previous albums, he has effectively topped all rap albums in recent years.
The album was primarily produced by Cole himself, alongside !llmind, Vinylz, Phonix Beats and Willie B. Unlike most rap albums today it also had no features and is the first album in 25 years to be certified platinum without any features. The album was announced 3 weeks before its release, and had very little marketing, with no singles prior to its release.
Unlike a lot of rappers, J. Cole does not brag about his money and does not promote drugs and violence. Instead, he tells us incredible stories of events he actually experinced throughout his life. On Forest Hills Drive, Cole explores his youth and along the way finding himself and true happiness.
While Forest Hills Drive is Cole’s deepest and most personal album yet - the album has somehow transcended J. Cole and has become the album for the people. It brings out every emotion, it promotes positivity and allows you to reflect on past mistakes or hard times and lets you know that life is not easy whatever your situation. We are only human, we make mistakes, but we will learn and grow. Simply put Forest Hills Drive makes you dream bigger. The song “Love Yourz” exemplifies this beautifully, Cole reflects on the most important things in life, such as love and happiness. He raps “Always gon’ be a bigger house somewhere, but nigga feel me, Long as the people in that motherfucker love you dearly, Always gon’ be a whip that’s better than the one you got, Always gon’ be some clothes that’s fresher than the ones you rock, Always gon’ be a bitch that’s badder out there on the tours,But you ain’t never gon’ be happy till you love yours”.
Forest Hills Drive is a masterpiece, everything from the production to the lyricism aligns J. Cole with the rap legends before him. If there’s one thing you should take from this Forest Hills Drive is “Love one another and life will fall into place”. This album is a must buy for fans of real Hip Hop.