The metamorphosis from adolescence to adulthood is often rooted in harsh and abrupt lessons, as well as profound introspection. Rapper J. Cole acknowledges this on his third studio album ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’. From angsty, bellicose album cuts such as ‘G.O.M.D’ to the deeply emotive ‘Adolescence’, Cole displays the bipolar emotions that mark this sensitive life milestone. On the aforementioned number, the cruel reality of growing up without his father lingers throughout. It’s harrowing realisations such as this, and overcoming these feats, big or small, that make these years truly transformative.
Perhaps this is why Croydon-based rapper/singer Jords decided to name his latest release ‘Almost An Adult’ after such a moment. The ten-song project clings tightly to its anticipated theme, burrowing through the mind of the act, who navigates his convictions.
Beginning in a place of familiarity, strong sentiments are shared towards London on ‘My City’. Standing as the region in which Jords was both born and raised in, the rapper ruffles through conflictions on the capital and some of the conventions that lie within it. Across the album-opener, Jords is particularly frustrated with some of the morals that pertain to street culture. “All your wrongs are lost in street code,” he repeats in multiple places. Ultimately, however, he finds refuge in paving his journey alone. Over the piano-led number, reality sets in that self-dependency is an aspect of his vocation that he has to be willing to accept at times. Littered with ‘Paid In Full’ citations, Jords neatly paints a picture of hardship that’s juxtaposed with his aspirations for a life with more substance.
The resilience gained on ‘My City’ follows Jords throughout, soon building to a crescendo of confidence that glazes across the likes of ‘Patterned’. Almost adopting a flow akin-to Stormzy, Jords, the primed artist arrives, aware of his value and potential. Backed by his self-produced bass-heavy soundscape, the Croydon-lyricist manages to add nuance to his character further, narrating his aspirations of bringing riches back to his family and friends to better their life. Jords is a law-abiding citizen also, quickly stating that he’s paid all of his taxes before the first-minute of ‘Patterned’ is reached. The colloquial song title discreetly emphasises the localised feel that locomotes Jords’ entire discography. It’s not forced here or in the “mandem” “lowkey” and “madting” references that linger also.
Amongst the braggadocious-laced project-cuts, lies a lover-boy ready to explore the emotion further as he develops. Borrowing from R&B’s past, Jords boldly samples K. P. & Envyi’s ‘Swing My Way,’ on ‘Swing’. Opting for a rapper's approach to the cut, Jords lays-bare his intentions, which ironically seem conflicted. He’s happy to have a fling or opt for the more serious route, which to him, involves introducing his potential spouse to his mother.
Ultimately, on later tracks such as ‘Rose Tinted Glasses’ it appears that Jords ratifies his emotions. He’s a man of romance, enthusiastic about laying his heart on his sleeve. Joined by Jaz Kharis, the pair rummage through their expectations and short-comings in relationships. Here, it’s evident to the listener that Jords values and respects these dynamics; he’s constantly willing to learn how to be a better lover. It’s a moment of unshakable vulnerability that adds a transparent aspect to both the project and Jords as an artist.
If it’s not clear at this point, familial ties are a non-negotiable for the Croydon MC. His wide-reaching experiences fuel this affinity to those who raised him. In the titular visual which stood as a precursor to the EP, Jords is seen honouring his late-grandmother.
On ‘Mrs Chambers Kitchen 2’ the rapper struggles with the hardship of laying her to rest in Jamaica, all whilst juggling his ascending career. Grief subsequently led him to alcohol and guilt. It’s another moment of sorrow for him however, it’s the strength in highlighting his depth as a man that makes the track as well as his wider music so appealing. It’s a similar depth found in Kano, Nas and Kendrick Lamar. In summary, Jords translates an unshakeable resilience that helps him in navigating his loss. His ancestral-home helps in fuelling this, that’s why he finds solace in “chilling in Mo’bay not the MOBOs” he shares over the guitar-dominant soundscape.
Overall, ‘Almost An Adult’ relentlessly finds silver-linings. Amongst the trials and tribulations of growing up, Jords is intent on using optimism to combat the growing pains. Here, the rapper leaves no stone unturned in his navigation of manhood. At times, ‘Almost An Adult’ flirts with the idea of purely employing materialism to tackle the transition. However, there’s always a deeper, more important message which aides in marking Jords as one of the most sentimental newcomers in recent years.
A holistic attempt at encompassing the multiple states of mind that engulf contemporary adolescents on their journey to adulthood.
Words: Nicolas Tyrell
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