J. Cole’s ‘K.O.D.’ Takes Inspiration From Children’s Books For Its Darkly Whimsical Cover

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Elusive North Carolina rapper J. Cole recently announced his surprising return to the rap game with the enigmatic, quickstrike release of his upcoming album, K.O.D., dropping this Friday without fanfare, promotion, or even a lead single. In fact, the only thing we know about the album so far is its title, and now, thanks to a tweet from J. Cole’s account, what the cover looks like and the names of the two(!) features.

Of course, the features might strike some as a relative surprising development. After all, “platinum with no features” has become a meme since Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive accomplished said feat and then he doubled down on the all-solo strategy with 2016’s 4 Your Eyez Only. There’s no information on just who “Kill Edward” is, but the internet conspiracy theory machine never rests, with some fans already surmising that it’s simply an alter-ego that Cole can use to change up his lyrical approach while still maintaining his “no features” ideology.

As far as the cover goes, it’s a somewhat more whimsical departure from his usual, dour approach (but not too much of one), featuring a hand painted illustration of J. Cole dressed in a royal cape and crown and featuring children indulging in the popular drugs of the day — lean, pills, and coke — as they deteriorate into harrowing skulls representing the chilling consequences of overindulgence. The cover even features a disclaimer reading, “This album is in no way intended to glorify addiction.”

That may be the case, but it’s also rumored to be one of J. Cole’s most sonically experimental albums yet. His Youtube account posted a video of fans at his recent secret listening party in New York reacting exuberantly. However, it’s probably best to take their response with a grain of salt; after all, they are hardcore J. Cole fans. We won’t have long to wait to find out if K.O.D. lives up to its absurdly accelerated hype — the album released this Friday, April 21 via Dreamville Records.