[Editor's Note: Kevin wrote this before Forest Hills Drive leaked. The album officially drops this coming Tuesday, December 9.]
With his third major album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, officially out next week, Jermaine Lamarr Cole seems to be on a personal mission to praise the simple life and expose Hollywoodish fakeness. Apart from great music, it's the life lessons of King Cole that are handed over in his music that I am most looking forward to. Whether it's uplifting songs that will make you want to get out and be great or thought provoking social commentary, Cole's catalog offers a lot in terms of emotional musical experiences, plus that ignorant shit that we all need every now and then, and one of the greatest life lessons I've learned from Fayetnam's finest came from the shock of listening to "Lost Ones" for the first time.
Let me take you way back to September of 2011. I just graduated from high school and was about to attend college, which meant a new chapter in the book of K. Taylor was about to begin. More importantly, I started seeing this girl who's become the Lilly to my Marshall ever since. Musically, there is a lot to remember, too. Not only did Watch the Throne take my heart away (no Penny), but beyond Yeezy and Hova's stunting there was another project that I would connect with much deeper - J.Cole´s major label debut Cole World: The Sideline Story. My great expectations for this album were only partly matched, but "Lost Ones" did give me that one outstanding song that I was hoping for:
On "Lost Ones," the artist with the middle name Lamarr elaborates on a conversation of an unmarried young couple that has just found out a baby is on the way. Remarkably, Cole tackles the issue from both perspectives in a way that's deeply emotional. I may have or have not shed a tear listening to this song, a feeling that hardly any song has ever made me feel.
So there I was, alone and unsuspectingly sitting in my room, care free and listening to an album I was anticipating for the longest time, and this dude J.Cole just made me confront all kinds of grown man issues that I clearly wasn’t ready for. I was just on the edge of leaving adolescence when "Lost Ones" made me question my behavior in love relationships, unplanned parenting and my view on abortion, let alone raising a child. Needles to say, I freaked the hell out and all types of questions popped into my mind, questions that I'd never thought a rap song would make me face: What if I would find myself in a similar situation? How would I feel? And how would my girl respond?
Luckily, I haven’t been in any kind of similar scenario described in "Lost Ones," but Cole made me feel that it was me in the first verse trying to explain his feelings and trying to figure out the right move in this literally life changing situation.
“Baby girl, I can't imagine what it's like for you,
I got you pregnant, now inside there is a life in you.
I know you wondering if this is gon' make me think about wifing you.
Like if you have my first child, would I spend my whole life with you?”
Think about it, baby, me and you we still kids ourself,
How we gonna raise a kid by ourself?”
Scarily, these words could have very easily been coming out of my own mouth and it made me wonder how I would fight the struggle of feeding a family. Additionally, Cole delivers the second verse from the female perspective in an Grammy-worthy performance, including a higher pitched voice to increase his female conveyance. The following lines made the song far more relatable for me and deliver a greater approach of how a woman would likely express herself:
“Knowing all the right things to say, I let you hit it raw, mothafucka!
Now I'm pregnant, you don't wanna get involved, mothafucka?
Tryna take away a life, is you God, mothafucka?
I don't think so! This a new life up in my stomach
Regardless if I'm your wife, this new life here I'mma love it”
Damn. In a genre primary dominated by men, the female point of view on real life social issues is just too often being overlooked. Cole made damn well sure that I would feel like a prick for agreeing with the first verse's perception and for even taking an abortion into consideration.
Almost every rapper at least once claimed to be the realest ever to touch the mic. Truth be told, if a song has the power to convincingly make the listener rethink about how quickly a life changing decision can occur and question parenting without even being in a similar situation it’s safe to say that it doesn’t get any realer than "Lost Ones." This song is a conscious music masterpiece (yeah I said it!) that every single adult or soon-to-be-adult can relate to, especially a youngin' like me.
For that reason, and since Cole obviously is aiming at a more personal message this time around, I am hella exited for what 2014 Forrest Hills Drive has in store, but even if a song as relatable as "Lost Ones" isn't included, J.Cole still has the ability to make music for people to reflect on life and to relate to. And that is the greatest compliment any artist could ever receive.
[Kevin Taylor is an aspiring music writer and master of the killer crossover. This is his Twitter.]