When I first started writing this piece I wanted to write about the powerful performance J. Cole had on the Late Show with David Letterman. Cole was there to promote his 3rd album 2014 Forest Hill Drive. The song he performed was titled "Be Free" and was originally released following the Mike Brown tragedy. An emotionally vulnerable chant about the pain that Black Americans have been feeling for centuries. A statement of protest, the song isn't even featured on the album.
Most mainstream artist would have released their hottest single as promotion on the legendary David Letterman show. They would have fallen in line with the rap persona that we have all become so comfortable with. The misogynistic, materialistic, violence glorifying, rap artist. In an era of Hip Hop where the image will get you more success than the truth, as we see with Iggy, Rick Ross, and many others, J. Cole's honesty has proven itself to be a breathe of fresh air. In an interview with the Angie Martinez on Power 105, J. Cole gives an insightful yet sickeningly truthful perspective on the ills of America. He shared his thoughts on racism, capitalism, and the present state of Hip Hop. Not since the days of Tupac Shakur have we seen a rapper in the mainstream spotlight speak so openly about the problems in America.
I think that it's important to highlight that many hip hop artist before Cole have spoken out about the systematic problems America has placed on it's Black citizens and the plight of a capitalistic system on the human psyche. Artist like Talib Kweli, Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def), Michael Jackson, Common, Erykah Badu, and many more. Most of the truth seekers and truth speakers never make it to main stage. Due to the fact the music industry profits more off bubblegum pop than it does off of realness. I believe with this album and this message Cole has established his-self as a champion who will continue to carry the torch for conscious Hip Hop. The type of Hip Hop the culture was born out of. As a fan of the art I can appreciate J. Cole for staying honest when fraudulent behavior is worthy of a Grammy nomination.
[Edit] J. Cole's first week sales topped out at 361,120 copies. Wow. In the words of legendary producer 9th Wonder "Never Ever Compromise"