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J. Cole is a funny old guy. In the States he is tagged as being a singles guy who can't put together an album, and in the UK his singles rarely make a dent while his albums grab all the attention. However, both sides of the pond tend to agree he hasn't really lived up to the promise shown on his early mixtapes. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is the latest attempt from Jermaine Cole to prove he is all he should be. Spoiler: He falls short. Again.

The album has all the hallmarks of a successful, bold and impressive release. Cole made all the beats himself, he rejected features, and he also gives a nod to past greats with the titles of the tracks. On paper it's promising and after the good start of the first two tracks - 'Intro' and 'January 28th' - the feeling that Cole could make the album he was supposed to starts to loom. But in true J. Cole style he messes it up with 'Wet Dreamz' - a cringeworthy track about the first time he had sex. Yeah, it's honest and confessional and real, but ain't nobody got time for hearing about J. Cole and some girl from his maths class, even if the beat is great.

'03 Adolescence' is J. Cole playing to his strengths by doing the everyman thing well. The beats across the album are brilliant as he utilises strings and horns as well as drums and samples. Cole's ear for a solid beat has been unwavering throughout his career - 'Villuminati', 'Power Trip' and 'Land of Snakes' from his last release still sound as good now as they did when it dropped on the same day as Yeezus.

2014 Forest Hills Drive sees J. Cole as a happier and calmer artist, and whilst tracks like the lazy laid-back 'St Tropez' might not be mind blowing, they are certainly well realised. The same cannot be said for 'GOMD' where J. Cole proclaims that gangstas do a lot of posing and don't like tracks about love - it's nothing new, and this is what Cole should be doing well.

On 2014 Forest Hills Drive, J. Cole is happy, but his real personality only comes across on album closer 'Note To Self', which is his 'Last Call'. It's pretty funny really as he outright states that he is surprised anyone is still listening. Tracks like 'Hello', 'Love Yourz' and 'Apparently' are pleasant but are hardly revolutionary - a statement which could be applied to the entire album.

His claims of white artists jacking hip-hop on 'Fire Squad' lack real conviction as he signs off with a shrug, his shouts at being the king/god of rap pale in comparison to Kendrick's 'Control', and his attempt to make an album to prove he isn't a singles artist means he doesn't have that one song to really grab your attention. Ironically, by pushing away featured artists Cole has ended up mimicking their style to fill the gaps. Quite possibly rushed so the house number could match the year, J. Cole's latest album is a damn good attempt, but it just isn't the real deal.

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