Just a few days ago, we had no idea when J. Cole would be putting out a new album -- but hoping that it would come this year. Then, out of nowhere, he announced that he'd be releasing his third album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, on December 9. Most of us won't get to hear it at all before then -- though he will choose a few contest winners to come listen at his house -- but one lucky fan (@DaliaDk on Twitter) got a one-on-one listening session Wednesday night. She tells us how the surreal experience came together in her own words.
I'm a die-hard J. Cole fan, so if he's in Dallas, or Houston, I'm always there. He's my favorite artist. He's been my favorite artist before he even blew up to this level.
Yesterday, he tweeted that he was in Dallas, and I tweeted him back -- but never in my wildest imagination could I have seen what happened next coming.
My phone blows up. I'm like, What's going on? And he tweeted back saying to DM my address so he could play me the music for the album. I'm like, Is this happening? And then my phone blew up more -- texts, notifications, FaceTime -- and it froze. I was like, He's waiting on me to DM the address, this is not happening to me right now!
From Dallas, we have a little Cole Fam. We're all die-hard J. Cole fans. I know my friend Evelyn through that -- we became really, really close, and we travel to the shows together. So last night, Evelyn was with me, and one of my closest friends Mimi was there, too, and my nephew, Moe, and Amir, Mimi's son. Cole's team asked me if it was cool to bring seven people and I was like, Yes, of course!
He came to the crib around 7, and we were so excited. Everybody starts coming out of the van, and I see Cole, and I just ran to him. I gave him a big old hug and was like, Follow me.
We go inside, the kids are all over the place -- they wanna play football with Cole and his manager, Ib; they wanted to play Playstation with Cole. It was dope. We sat there and chilled for a bit, and they were like, We thought you had a heart attack -- why would you not answer? We were wondering if you were OK.
My nephew had a poem that he had been writing, and he was like, Dalia, I'm gonna read Cole my poem. And the poem started off, "College is knowledge" -- and obviously Cole went to college. We always play "Dear Mama," and my nephew loves that song. After he finished his poem, he was like, OK, listen, and then he started rapping "Dear Mama." And Cole was like, Ah!
Then he had me listen to the album. He was like, I want you to hear it, Dalia, but I want you to take it in. So I took it to the kitchen -- I didn't wanna just run off with his phone. Song by song, we went through. He'd be like, I really want you to hear this one, and then he'd play it. And a couple we'd skim through -- they were late to an actual listening session that they had -- but for the most part I heard most of it.
It was so dope. It still has the Cole essence in it. The Cole that we love. The Cole that we ride for. It's inspirational; it's so soulful, and it's from the heart. The storytelling is there, and it's heartfelt. You can tell this album is more personal. It's more detailed.
The production on it was amazing. That was one of the first things I noticed. I didn't ask if he produced it or if it was someone else, I was just telling him, Yo, this is dope! I wanted to ask, but I wanted to concentrate on the music and take it all in.
There could be some singles -- not in a sense that it's a commercial, sell-out, club type thing, but there are songs that can definitely get played on the radio and will still touch your soul. The beats are amazing, you can still jam and vibe out to it.
One of the songs got me in tears, and I was like, Man, I'm not about to do this. I guess he saw it. There was one line, I told him, I was just telling that to my homegirl not too long ago. He was like, Yes! He just came and gave me a hug. I was like, this really touched my soul. And that song, he said, basically really summed up the whole album. It literally had me in tears.
When they left, we all sat there like, This. Just. Happened. I think I'm still in shock. We were trying to look at all the videos that we took. My phone is still going nuts.
This is exactly what Cole is about. Who else does $1 shows? He does everything for the fans, and that's why we ride for him like we do. You feel it. His humility, the way he treats you, he's so genuine and so humble, and you can tell it's coming from the heart.
He has a beautiful soul. At one point, my friend Evelyn was telling him a tragic story that happened in her past, and she started to tear up. We all tried to leave, because it was a private moment, and Cole was like, turn off the cameras. And he just stayed there and talked to her and gave her the best advice. Everybody was waiting to go to the listening session, and he was like, Hold up. And he took that time because he cared.
I told him about an accident that I was in, and what stood out to me the most is that he is fully engaged in the convo. You can feel him feeling what you're talking about. He's finishing my sentences as I'm talking. It's not somebody that's brushing you off. I told him, I don't even feel like you're a celebrity. I feel like you're fam. I feel like he's the homie that I've known for a long time that just happened to blow up.
His music helped me through so much. I can't even put to words.
It's not only for him, but he's trying to inspire you, as well. He wants that for you, genuinely.
I still can't believe it -- it hasn't fully registered.