J.Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive has reached platinum status. It will be Cole’s first platinum album. However what’s more noteworthy is that is the only Hip Hop album released in 2014 to go platinum and the first Hip Hop album without features to go platinum in 25 years.
The Last 10 Platinum Hip Hop Albums
The Marshall Mathers LP 2- Eminem, November 2013
Nothing Was The Same- Drake, September 2013
Yeezus- Kanye West, June 2013
Magna Carta Holy Grail, July 2013
Good Kid M.A.A.D. City- Kendrick Lamar, October 2012
The Heist- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, October 2012
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded- Nikki Minaj, April 2012
Take Care- Drake, November 2011
Tha Carter IV- Lil Wayne, August 2011
When Cole dropped the album the reviews were definitely not stellar. 2014 Forest Hills Drive, coming on the heels of Born Sinner, was a jarring left turn. The album’s more serious and somber tone with the heavy content was a far cry from the more pop friendly Born Sinner. So for many who had praised and loved Born Sinner, they felt a little left behind on 2014 Forest Hills Drive. This, of course, does not at all speak to the quality of the album, just its commercial popularity. The album was released with minimal promotion and The album is definitely well crafted and has something to say, but what one does question is why this album went platinum and not Born Sinner?
One thought is that in the era of free internet downloading and music sharing sites album sales have declined and are also less indicative of what they are actually meant to portray: listeners’ opinions. Mainstream pop music listeners tend to be finicky Hip Hop listeners going after what they hear in rotation on the radio and in the clubs. And since the music is already so heavily played at them, they often do not value the investment and commitment it takes to actually purchase an album. Since Born Sinner held so much appeal to the pop music world, it stands that the album and songs were more than likely downloaded for free or not at all. 2014 Forest Hills Drive having a more Hip Hop grounded production would appeal more to Hip Hop heads and J.Cole fans and it appears they spoke out by stepping up and actually purchasing the album.
Despite the mediocre ratings and reviews of 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the album is exceptionally listenable. The album did not pack the punch or shine that most were expecting but it is definitely a solid album and well worth adding to Hip Hop head’s collection. Whether this indicative of a shift in the spending of music buyers where Hip Hop lovers, who are notoriously thought to be the major patrons of the free downloading arenas, are going to start putting their money where their love is will be seen. However, it is good to see a non-pop oriented Hip Hop album created by a person of color receive its due. Big ups to J.Cole, the prince rocks on.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man