I finally got around to listening to KOD (J Cole’s new album), and my main gripe with it is it doesn’t sufficiently answer the question posed at the beginning of the album and repeated throughout: “Life can bring much pain. There are many ways to deal with this pain–choose wisely.”
He made that the motif, yet he never really talks about what those choices are beyond the obvious ones. He lists off a bunch of drugs at the end of KOD and talks about his mom’s alcoholism on Once an Addict, but the only other “way” he mentions is “meditation” on FRIENDS. Maybe he meant meditation metaphorically, not literally–as in we need to address the root of the trauma and not just treat the symptoms (something that’s not always possible). But if we assume he meant it literally…
The ways in which people cope are as diverse as they are. Some are healthy, some are not. I personally use running and creativity as outlets (among others), so I don’t think you can reduce the issue down to either drugs or meditation. To do so would be oversimplification, creating a false dilemma. You can’t just tell everyone they need to “meditate, not medicate,” because some people NEED medication, or therapy, or help … and you know what, THAT’S OKAY. We need to stop making it something to be ashamed of. Our society takes individualism to an unhealthy extreme, to the point where we’re scared to ask for help or even talk about our mental health openly for fear of being ridiculed.
Instead of trying to make generalizations about which methods are good or bad, I think Cole should stick to letting people choose what’s best for themselves without piling on the judgement. While I generally agree with his message (we should try to use less substances and find a healthier way), I also understand that this doesn’t work for everyone–which is why I think weed, etc., should be legal. Though I personally don’t partake, I still respect others’ right to have the option. Also, there’s a big difference between regulating substances or using them in moderation and abusing them.
I feel like Cole is the complete wrong spokesperson since he admits to smoking medical grade marijuana he wasn’t prescribed on the same track, making him a hypocrite with no better alternative to offer us. But on the other hand, I totally agree with the points he made about how it sucks not having a say what our tax dollars go towards, and that trauma is often buried and ignored among black families and communities instead of being dealt with in a healthy way.