Week Fulla Dreamville – My Favorite’s of All Time #13: J.Cole’s ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’

UMMMMM. So I don’t know WHAT happened yesterday. I had every intention to write this, but for some reason I was watching All Def’s videos instead LOL. And then there was a bunch of excitement later on (cable company came to set up the internet because we’ve been living recklessly, I made dinner) that I didn’t even realize it until I was already in bed. But I’m here now (on my new laptop :)) ready to chat about the greatness that is 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014).

I just sharpen my blade, for a minute became lost in my ways
This for my niggas that was tossed in the graves
Every so often I fade deep in my thoughts

And then get lost in the days
We used to play before your coffin was made
Just got the call nigga got caught with a stray
Hope he’s okay

Carolina’s finest, you knew that already
In terms of the greatest, I proved that already
And if you would like, I do it twice

I remember being in high school when this project dropped. And EVERYONE I knew was talking about it. I remember a specific moment where I was around some folks in my marching band – I believe we were going to practice – and we spent some time talking about it. We spent the few minutes of free time we had just swooning over all the amazing production and the BARS that Cole gave us. Plus, we OF COURSE had to talk about how “No Role Modelz” was everyone’s favorite song and the “Iggy” line from “Fire Squad.” And it was a kind of special moment for me because it was folks who I didn’t typically talk to, and so the album was a moment for us to get to know each other better. I don’t think about it often, but when I do, it’s a very fond memory.

I think this album sees Cole at his best. Not that he’s fallen off (I mean, he really gets better every time I hear him), but whenever I think of J. Cole, I imagine him living in this project. It was such a deeply personal moment for him. I mean, everything down to the rollout and release of the project was centered on us learning more about Cole’s past. He took us to his childhood home, showed us the process of him preparing Forest Hills Drive, and gave us some intimate moments that he typically saved for the folks that are closest to him. It’s actually kinda hilarious to me how much we associated Cole with making this type of music, while this was really the first time we were getting something like this from him. Of course, there were moments on his other projects, but this was something different. I was hoping to find a link to the docuseries he did with HBO on the process of making Forest Hills Drive, but instead I found this post he made on Twitter:

(via Twitter)

And you can feel how special this project was for Cole. Every moment feels intentional. Every sample and piece of production feels like it was mulled over a thousand times before it ended up on the project. And I think that’s what I love the most about it. I think, for me, an important part of the listening experience is being able to hear the care put into the project. And that doesn’t always come through solely in bars or lyrics. There’s a certain feeling that a well-prepared project has; it leaves you feeling like you just had a really amazing meal and you need a moment to digest it. Full and ready for rest.

I have started trying to plan my stories for thursday email a lot better, and that has involved me creating a Google Doc where I can come up with the ideas for them in advance, instead of sitting on the edge of my bed every morning and having an existential crisis. And that was something that doing the Week Fulla Dreamville required even more. So I had decided that I wanted to do Forest Hills Drive for a MFOAT basically a month ago at this point. But I forgot about it until a couple of days ago LOL. But that allowed me to unknowingly experience this project in its entirely (again) without interruptions. Me and my mom have started taking walks on Wednesdays or Sundays on some trails near where we live. It’s something we used to do every once in a while before I went off to college, and we’ve started picking it back up since I came back. A little moment of normalcy during the Rona. We decided to walk a new trail last week, and I decided to have Forest Hills Drive be the background music for me, since I refuse to ever walk in silence. Since there’s literally nothing to do but walk, I was able to just BE with Forest Hills Drive for the duration of the project. And the album mixed with the b e a u t y of the trail was really an overwhelming experience. I couldn’t help but be swept away by the dreaminess of the intro track and “January 28th,” and I stayed in that other world all the way through the credits of the project. It was really just an overall beautiful experience, and I’m glad I’m able to add that moment to the ones I’ve had with this project.

And that’s why 2014 Forest Hills Drive is one of my favorites of all time!


here’s something else you might like:

Week Fulla Dreamville – Album Look Back #9: Dreamville’s ‘Revenge of the Dreamers III’

LOL. I was going to save finishing up the Week Fulla Dreamville until next week, but I woke up this morning and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write on today, and then I realized that it could be helpful for me to just continue on with the Dreamville stuff this … Continue reading Week Fulla Dreamville – Album Look Back #9: Dreamville’s ‘Revenge of the Dreamers III’

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