By: Jacob Williams
R.O.T.D II is yet another classic produced by J. Cole and the whole Dreamville team. Atfirst glance it may seem more like a mixtape because it’s not solely one artist’s album, and more of a collaboration. With not only J.Cole who is easily the most well known person in the group,but also Cozz, Bas, and Omen who were the original artists to join Cole’s record label. The also were able to show off some of these newcomers who haven’t dropped their debut album yet Ari Lennox, Lute, Correy C and Donnie Trumpet.
The first song is called “Folgers Crystal” by J. Cole, and it sets the tone onwhat the album will be all about. Some of the lyrics that jumped out to me are when he said “Nat Turner in my past life. Bob Marley in my last life, back again.” It may only be fourteen words but it speaks a thousands. He’s not an angry young rapper anymore who tries to promote rebellion in what he wants changed in the today’s world, but rather an understanding one who used peace to get his views and ideas out. Another verse that stands out complements the last line and shows what he wants changed, “They see a black man shine, first thing they do is throw their shade.” This is one thing Cole doesn’t like about the world; when a black man breaks his oppression, society looks down upon and acts like they don’t deserve to break the oppression.
The second song is “Night Job” by Bas feat. J. Cole. It’s more up tempo but still calm andrelaxing, something you’d jam out too by yourself going on a joyride at night. It’s about how Bas has finally gotten where he always believed he’d get to in this career that it’s finally falling all in place but he can’t forget how he got here and he still needs to stay true to himself. The third song is called Backseat by Ari Lennox feat Cozz. It has more of a old school, west coast beat with a Erykah Badu-type feeling to it, It was very nice touch to the album.
Track four is “Caged Bird” by J. Cole feat. Omen and let me say this could be one of the deepest songs that really get you thinking in 2015, hint the name “Caged Bird.” Even if you don’t like the genre of hip hop, this song is certainly worth listening to. The most notable line in the song comes during the hook, “Freedom is just an illusion, that’s my conclusion.” Now he says he’s talking about all his childhood friends who are locked up in prison and how they’re unable to fly freely and reach their true potential. However, if you really think about it and evaluate life as we know it, I think the majority of people, regardless of ethnicity or incarceration status could qualify as being a “Caged Birds.”
Track five is “48 Laws” by Omen feat Donnie Trumpet. This one is about how he’s had to help himself to get where he is today in the rap industry. Track six is “Houswives” by Bas, another decent song, but nothing extraordinarily special like the last track. Even without having that deeper meaning like most of Dreamville songs, it is still a decent track.
Track seven is “Tabs” by Cozz feat. Bas. This song is must for all pregame warmup lists because it gets you hyped. The whole meaning behind this song is that money will change people and that nothing else will matter to them, people are thirsty for money.
Track eight is “Still Slummin” by Lute. The first time I heard of Lute, I thought he was another one of these newcomers, but the song has more classic old school feel to it, another nice touch to the album. This one is similar to “Tabs,” but has a totally different feel to it. He talks about when he goes back home to where he grew up, he doesn’t like to tell people he signed with Cole because they’ll just be after his money. Track nine is “Grow” by Cozz feat J. Cole and is best song on the album, hands down. I know earlier I talked about “Caged Birds” being really good and deep, but Grow is on that same level, if not better. It’s that reality rap that we fell in love with when N.W.A came out. Cozz is on the comeup and he’s staying true to himself and rapping his own everyday life as well as the lives of others.
Overall, this is a a great start for Cole and he has a bright musical future ahead of him. I’m sure Cole just wanted to get the young artists feet wet but they didn’t just do that, they jumped in and made a splash, all around a very strong team effort once again by Dreamville Records.