Happy International Working Womyn’s Day: History and the struggle today

Opinion, Revolutionary Perspectives, THEIRstory

 

In celebration, through centuries of toil—bruises, scars and pain—it is March, so we must, dedicate everything we can for womyn.[1] March 8th is International Working Wom[y]n’s Day (IWWD), in 1909 the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) was honored by the Socialist Party of America (SP) because of inspiring strike for better wages, shorter hours and safer working conditions.[2] 1910 saw the convening of the Socialist International, officially the Second International[3] succeeded by the International Workingmen’s Association, in—Copenhagen—where with a unanimous vote, 100 delegates decided to celebrate March 8th as Womyn’s Day, later IWWD, no date was set.[4] It was not until 1975 when the United States (US) officially made March 8th—International Wom[y]n’s Day.[5] Moreover in 1981 Congress passed a resolution calling on the President to authorize the first “Wom[y]n’s History Week,” starting in 1988 Congress passed other resolutions to authorize March as “Womyn’s History Month” and since 1995 succeeding Presidents continued the tradition.[6]

March may be “Womyn’s History Month” but celebrating womyn everyday should be tradition. Studying womyn’s herstory, in the US, reveal the difficulties womyn faced fighting to earn privileges—and dignity of being a womyn, endowed upon men. However—resiliency, power and revolutionary—are more accurate reflections of womyn’s position in herstory. Most clearly, seen in the labor movement of the early twentieth century.

Womyn organizing proved paramount during the rise of intense class struggle in the early twentieth century that attempting to write of it all—would do womyn no justice. Instead narrowing in on the ILGWU encapsulates the power of the organizing done. Formed in 1900, ILGWU was a combination of seven garment producing unions. Early on they struggled to grow, due to inconsistent dues cycles, small membership and manufacturer’s hostility, after nine years of inconsistent struggles—1909—saw, what became known as, the “Uprising of 20,000” where mostly women from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory go on strike. They become famous because of the strike duration, size of the union and the support they received from middle class white womyn. However in 1911—changed the course of garment apparel and labor history—the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory caught on fire. In total 146 people, mostly womyn, were killed or jumped off the building, incredibly tragic. In response, the ILGWU, organized a funeral procession, leading to a strike by ILGWU members and for the first time—unions, government and activists—work together towards safer working conditions, ends up being the impetus for many labor laws, not possible without the work of the ILGWU.[7]

The ILGWU grew rapidly after the 1910s and by 1969 their membership was almost half a million—making them one of the largest union in US her-story. However, due to deindustrialization, corporations and ruling class capitalists, saw outsourcing garment production to the global south[8] as more profitable and seemingly—less exploitative, to their consumers at home. With the beginning of the 70’s, ILGWU shrunk in size and in 1995 ultimately was forced to merge with their male union counterpart, the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, forming Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE). Regardless the history of the ILGWU remain legendary.[9]

Today deindustrialization changed the US’s economic policy, like aforementioned, it is cheaper to import garment from the global south, therefore the 1970’s, onwards, opened up trading, influence and leading to the proliferation of sweatshops across the global south. Specifically in countries like India, China, Vietnam and, in this case, Bangladesh.

2013, Dhaka, Bangladeshi, the Rana Plaza Factory collapsed on April 24th—killing 1,134 killed and over 2,515 injured—disastrously making history as the deadliest sweatshop collapse ever.[10] In the wake of Rana Plaza our collective indifference, or momentary empathy, illuminates unconsciousness consumerism’s deathbed. Moreover, worth noting is that the collapse was not a—‘accident’—on the contrary, it was just the opposite, in other words, completely and wholly preventable. Exactly like the aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, victims of the Rana Plaza collapse, womyn labor in Dhaka took to the streets with solidarity from the global north.

Ironically, the conditions of sweatshops, in the global south, are exactly replicable to the garment factories here in the twentieth century, as well as meatpacking plants, coal mines and steel mills. History is not repeating itself, it’s intentional, a process of neocolonialism.

Kwame Nkrumah, well-known Ghanaian liberator, Pan-African and the Ghana’s 1st Prime Minister Post-independence, developed the idea of neocolonialism—“as the last stage of imperialism.”[11] He posits that this “last stage” of imperialism and capitalism is the most dangerous because at the surface it is docile,even humanitarian, conversely at its root—neocolonialism—is a vicious policy, with a benevolent facade. In other words, defined as an external power controlling many aspects of subject nations sovereignty by way of economic domination. [12] Currently, multinational corporations have pivoted their spending from western nations to the global south. Aided by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and governmental approval have carved out policies that benefit the global north, appease the public, while exploiting womyn in places like Bangladesh.[13] In sum, countries like the US are responsible for deplorable work conditions globally, just like—the US was in the early twentieth century, the connection is inextricable. Therefore, we must fight today as the womyn who sacrificed their lives in 1911 through today, simply fighting for what they believed—justice.

Let’s continue to celebrate—honor—give thanks to the womyn who have fought, died and continue to fight today; never forgetting that the fight is not over. Ranging from closing the wage gap here in the US to ending sweatshop abuse in Bangladesh to abolishing prisons, as womyn of color make up the fastest growing population, to demanding justice for Trans* womyn murdered/committed suicide, the struggle for womyn’s liberation is not over—in 2015 as the fight grows, so must we.

Happy International Working Womyn’s Day! Solidarity to all those who uplift womyn’s struggles in all their work. Onwards towards liberation for womyn and collectively for all.


 

 

Sources (Footnotes):

 

[1] “Womyn” is used instead of wo “men” to reclaim an identity lost because of discrimination and oppression caused by defining oneself –in opposition to the oppressor (i.e. men). https://www.msu.edu/~womyn/alternative.html

[2] Spedding, Lisa S. 2012 “International Women’s Day and World NGO Day: Celebration and Balance” Women Lawyers Journal 97, no. ½; 13-16. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOHost (Mar. 4th 2015)

[3] “The Second International: Social Democracy 1880-1920” https://www.marxists.org/history/international/social-democracy/index.htm; archive of Social Democracy with prominent socialist parties, figures and documents.

[4] 2015. “History of International Women’s Day” United Nations: Woman Watch. 2015; Accessed: Mar. 4th 2015

[5] Spedding 2012, IWD; Mar. 4th 2015

[6] “Women’s History Month” http://womenshistorymonth.gov/about.html; various governmental and nongovernmental archive documents, pictures and much more in March.

[7] University, Kheel Center – Cornell. The Kheel Center ILGWU Collections. Accessed: Mar. 4th 2015. http://ilgwu.ilr.cornell.edu/

[8] “Global south” may not always be accurate, geographically, instead it provides us with a framework of understanding geopolitics not as a dichotomy between “developing” and “un/underdeveloped” nations, those pejorative titles are remnants of colonial ideology of the “civilized” vs. “heathen” parts of the world. Global south is more accurate for both political correctness but to uplift the lives and struggles of the people in non-western nations.

[9] Kheel Center; Cornell.

[10] Motlagh, Jason. Apr. 18 2014 “A year after Rana Plaza: What hasn’t changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse” Washington Post

[11] Nkrumah, Kwame. 1965. “Neocolonialism, the last stage of imperialism” Marxist.org; accessed Mar. 8th 2015 https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/nkrumah/neo-colonialism/introduction.htm

[12] Ibid.

[13] Good resources on globalization can be found at: https://www.globalpolicy.org/globalization ; this article provides a simple list of the negative effects of global capitalism: https://www.globalpolicy.org/globalization/globalization-of-the-economy-2-1/general-analysis-on-globalization-of-the-economy/49750.html?itemid=49750

Upcoming Works

Opinion, Revolutionary Perspectives

I have a penchant for taking on more than I could even hope to manage; much like the previous sentence–I tend to over – do and consistently, fail to finish tasks because I start different tasks with a knack of, once again, ‘over-doing it’. That being said I do have some writings on the way, a lot of them born out of dialogue between comrades, including: a piece Indian identity, Stalin and ‘Hood Politics’.

I hope that people will start reading my blog more, not because I want to be well-known but I need critical eyes–not affirming or berating me–to let me know if my skills, both, as a writer and revolutionary are developing.

Alongside, the research based works, I will be writing about experiences of an organizer; *preview* it’s stressful.

Just know y’all work is on the way and I hope you all will enjoy what comes out of here, vice-versa, I hope to read more from comrades and aspiring writers.

Keep it trill. Salute!

Note: this post was made from my phone. So, I can’t upload pictures.

Why this new movement doesn’t need ‘activists’

Opinion, Police, Politics, Revolutionary Perspectives

2014 was a—year of resistance—brought on through increased tragedy. From ubiquitous violence, from Palestine to Ferguson, to lack of concern for human needs, the “Fight for $15” to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, 2014 has been difficult. Yet, hope was not all lost. A new ‘protest movement’ was born, people filled the streets, simultaneously, and a moment and movement arose.

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2014, especially in the wake of Israeli siege of Gaza and rampant police violence, a new generation of “activists”—were born.

Soles, and souls, hit the streets, commutes were disrupted, Zizek/Occupy style ‘mic-checks’ reemerged, incendiary signs, chants and demands became normal all in part due—a new wave of “activists”— inculcated our psyche (and newsfeed); whether we like it or not, forced the U.S to collectively think about what resistance actually looks like.

These collection of moments, paving the way for a movement, is powerful and necessary. However, it is not infallible, in actuality, it is far from it especially because the ‘over’-proliferation of—“activists’—is doing more harm to the movement, than good.

Regardless of how powerful 300,000 people marching through New York City was, characteristically, it has just become another trendy highlight—in the fetishization of direct action.  Moreover, I am no longer interested in hearing about, seeing or talking about actions or especially “activists”—as I am convinced that their relevancy, both semantically and physically, have become obsolete.

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To be clear, I am not saying we don’t need direct actions, instead, I am calling for an end to ‘activists’, in their current incarnation. Instead, developing ‘activists’ into the organizers, the movement so badly needs.

“Activists” are defined with 4 blatant characteristics: 1.) people committed to action, activity and ‘showing up’, as opposed to, those invested in building movements, 2.) people attracted to trendy struggles, i.e. Ferguson solidarity, Gaza, etc, 3.) those whose impetus for getting ‘active’ is based on emotional appeal (pathos), not consciousness of systematic injustice and 4.) In many cases, a weak, “liberal” ideology.

Instead, I think there is another way, we need “organizers”, devoted to the development of future organizers, intrinsically what organizers already do; but now it is time to get serious about leadership development.

I define, “organizers”, as displaying 4 parallel, antithetical characteristics: 1.) they see actions, such as rallies and protests, as tactics in a broader struggle for visibility and their role is planning, building and organizing the actions for activists to join, 2.) committed to lasting, systemic altering, struggles, not just the most “hopping”, 3.) commitment to organizing stems from an ethical or logical conclusion of an invalid system and 4.) an ideology, that grapples with liberation—not just progress.

To further explain, let’s take the tragedies of Mike Brown and Eric Garner—and the new ‘protest movement’, alongside it.

Rioting erupts in Ferguson, Missouri after police involved shooting of an unarmed teen

Police violence on communities of color is nothing new, but this level of activity, in response, has been missing in the 21st century. In mid-August, shortly after Mike Brown’s murder, protests erupted in Ferguson, then subsequently, across the country. For the next few weeks the streets were hot, shining a damning light on police brutality. Causing tensions, between the police and communities of color, rising to an all-time high, again. The past few months were ripe with great actions, collective power and thousands, upon thousands, in the streets, but what happened to these ‘activists’? They dropped off because, an inherent flaw of “activism”, they did not have a strong theoretical and logical base for becoming active, other than for activity itself.

With rising tensions, the birth of a new movement and no substantive reform, activists have been running wild—but these ‘foot soldiers’ have run their course, now it is time where we take this tragedy and develop organizers, and organizations, to struggle intensely.

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Furthermore, today’s “activism” is harmful and cyclical (without getting too theoretical). Meaning, for example, a tragedy occurs, the masses are indignant, a ‘protest movement’ grows—and then it either loses momentum, it is suppressed or the activists accept a certain concession—then pattern starts all over again. Organizers see the error in this cycle; therefore, organizers will always prioritize winning campaigns that will change the nature of the status quo and developing leaders so that movements, won’t die out or be conceded, instead—the struggle for a reimagined world—will continue until the day a new world is born.

There is hope, I know there is. Nothing about our current stage is irrelevant; except, activists and those who preach the gospel of action over organization. We have the power to change that. People actually are building powerful organizations, but they are still the minority.

womens-liberation-protest

It is not an easy path, no such thing “short term” win, it is going to take years of painful, grueling, on the ground work but I know that we are more than capable. It will take patience from the older organizers, to teach the newer ones, yet we have the greatest chance at another world because unlike many other generations, or movements, we are guided by hope not despair—and that makes a worldly difference.

Thoughts in Brief and new Blog Culture

Islamophobia, News, Opinion, Police, Politics, Revolutionary

As I write this I am feeling a bit let down, not by anyone but myself. I do not normally make New Years’ Resolutions because they have become meaningless ways to receive affirmation, through social media; now, don’t get me wrong I love affirmation and social media but I don’t love when a promise I make is broken. Yet, regardless, I still in my head made a semi-promise to myself to write more, I felt I broke it. I could go on more about my thoughts for the past month but instead I’ll conclude with solution to myself, and my (possible 10) followers, I will make sure to post every single week, Wednesday, thoughts, analysis or anything I feel pertinent. Voice, especially those calling for revolution, are an absolute necessity. A system that is so predicated upon assimilation and contained dissent needs voices destroying it–I have no grand delusions that I am the one who will achieve that–but I know I can open a space for those who will.


 

Next I have some thoughts, not going to be blogged about fully: 

Charliehebdo

Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine in France–known for its callous depictions of religion, has become infamous after the murder of 12 artists. Suspects are thought to be “Islamic terrorists”* These deaths may be tragic, I also see the magazine for being at fault, the representation of Mohammed, which is said to be the cause of the attack, is offensive to Islam and, unlike their depictions of Christianity and Judaism, tinged with racist stereotypes. We should mourn the deaths of these journalists, but #IamNOTCharlie, here is a great article about which bodies are ‘mournable’, gives great insight into the recent killings.

 

Just because protests have, seemingly, died down Police violence is still very relevant, in our hearts and minds, Ferguson has been going strong for 150 Days–are they the only ones with energy left?

mao_6

This year, well 2014, we lost a great revolutionary, Leslie Feinberg. Zie was pioneer in the movement for trans* liberation, hir was focused on proletarian revolution, till’ their beautiful life was cut short. Rest In Power, Comrade. *As a sidenote*, the burgeoning Socialist Alternative (SAlt), attacked Leslie’s character, implicitly, and the comrades of Workers World Party, unexpectedly. Inferring that a great revolutionary, like Leslie, was ignorant to the political program of zie’s own party; this sort of attack needs to be condemned, not because Leslie was infallible but instead to show the self-destructive path the ‘Left’ is on.

Any revolutionary ideology cannot be built upon antagonism to another doctrinaire. Therefore, socialists, such as the International Socialist Organization (ISO), should not maintain their commitment to ‘Anti-Stalinism’, or vice-versa, we need to be searching for correct theories to develop our practice–not create a program based on opposition–as it is historically reactionary.

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Indian culture, especially with some American acculturation, in my experience, is rabidly anti-Black. With a lack of Black people in India, I hardly believe this pervasive ideology is organic. I think it gives credence to the power of White Supremacy, in the US. Especially, since White Supremacy has become a doctrine, impeding both People of Color (PoC) and working-class Whites, as a opposed to a horrid reality of the past (not say that White Supremacist attacks are not relevant, but, are less frequent and less physical). Indian’s, as a whole, have not been in the US for very long but we have become the envy of other PoC, due to visible financial success–apart of White Supremacist doctrine–but I believe the root cause of this ‘anti-Blackness’ is the age, old Colonialists strategy of ‘divide-and-conquer.’ More on this topic later…

In conclusion, I assert this, we cannot be free until we all are; this means, Free Mumia! Free Leonard! Free Chelsea! Free Palestine! Free Nigeria! We as revolutionaries, must fully on the side of the oppressed, to display solidarity, power, love and fight for a better world!

PFLP-group-1969

* This is how the Western media discusses the attackers, I neither believe in liberally using the word ‘terrorist’–especially coupled with ‘Islamic’–as it reminiscent of popular discourse, which is problematic and wrong, in and of itself. 

The Curious Case of Lupe Fiasco

Opinion, Politics

Was thinking about this exact same topic, earlier today. Lupe, was once, one of my favorite rappers, now he has degenerated into everything he was diametrically opposed to in 2005. Here is to hoping that, first and foremost, he finds inner peace but also returns to that “breath of fresh air” we all so dearly miss.

Check out my blog: alifeofresistance.com

ORIGINAL SOURCE: http://blackmillennials.com/2015/01/08/the-curious-case-of-lupe-fiasco/

Black Millennials

When rap mogul Jay Z called Lupe Fiasco “a breath of fresh air,” I couldn’t agree more. The year was 2006 when he released Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor. The transition of hip hop as a lyrical haven to a pop culture fixture, was well underway. Gone were the days when stellar rap music was measured by lyrical content and impassioned delivery. Now, the “best” rap songs were weighted on catchy beats and concise hooks and choruses, so as to be repeated easily. Rap was no longer a labor of love, it was a corporate chop-shop.

Lupe entered the mainstream as hip hop was changing from a lyrical exercise to a constant headbanger. At the time, I was proud of Lupe. As hip hop crippled with every Yung Something, Lupe stood strong. His spirit, bold. His content, deep. His musical prowess laid unchallenged in a wave of one-liners. The…

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A counterrevolutionary story for a revolutionary life: Leila Khaled

Opinion, Revolutionary Perspectives, THEIRstory

 

A ‘capitulation of power’, ‘weak’, ‘towards…revolution’ and ‘end the occupation’ “NOW!” Wholly encompasses the self-proclaimed “dialectic materialist”, and her worldview (more on that later), Leila Khaled.

Employing both brevity and breadth, Khaled, has become the icon for Palestinian liberation–and an unabashed Marxist. Claiming that “Palestine for me is Paradise. Religions talk about paradise. For me, Palestine is paradise. It deserves our sacrifices” displaying upfront, her words and actions as a visceral embodiment of the same “dialectics” she espouses. Moreover, going back to her words in the beginning, she describes the entirety of negotiations between Israel and Palestine as “weak” and that Palestine is negotiating from a position of powerlessness instead–calling for revolution to end the occupation, as a showing of “dialectics”, because of her contradictory positions, in that, most would see negotiations as progress but not Khaled. Generally her positions, and her being, are seen as revolutionary but dangerous, groundbreaking but problematic, as a symbol of liberation but also as a “terrorist” but all too characteristic of herself–Khaled is solely committed to Palestinian emancipation, a true sign of a revolutionary.

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Born in Haifa, a large northern Israeli city, forcibly joining 6 million other Palestinians in a diaspora of biblical proportions, 4 years after her birth. Settling in Lebanon, ending up in Amman, Jordan today, her family joins the Arab National Movement, where in 1967 the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is born. Khaled’s indignation, pre-1967, could not be contained, persuading a Marxist-Leninist group to train her in revolutionary warfare which will–end up as her ‘theory’ and ‘praxis’ for liberation.

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Still she was among thousands of refugees who held contempt for the settler-colonial regime, Israel. However in 1969, her name goes down in heroic infamy.

First, in 1969, she along with a comrade of hers hijacked a plane flying to Tel Aviv, forcing it to fly into Damascus, as tactic to free 2 prisoners held by Israel–TWA flight 840 was stolen for the two Israelis on-board as an exchange for the jailed Palestinians. Then again, in 1970, before the brutal crackdown on Palestinian fighters, known as “Black September”, Khaled hijacked another plane but this time it was flying out of EI AI (a well-guarded Israeli airport). Regarded, mildly, as a “success” it led to the freeing of many Palestinian prisoners in Europe but like before, Khaled, was captured by the authorities and her partner, Patrick Arguello, was killed by Israeli guards.

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These two events, marred in infamy, lead to the proliferation of the name: Leila Khaled, as the poster-child for resistance.

After 1970, her name no longer appeared daily on news reels, newspaper headlines but her legend had cemented, still apart of the PFLP she has become the voice for revolutionary warfare, socialist revolution and anti-imperialism, in the Middle East. A solid revolutionary by any standards.

Midst the perpetual demonization, Khaled, has posited various ‘controversial’ standpoints, including: her relegation of women’s oppression to the bottom of the symbolic ladder of oppression, as well as, not being an over-zealous advocate for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) and, most well-known, for her adamant stance on armed struggle as necessary for liberation.

Mao

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Mao Zedong (Nov. 1938, “Problems of War and Strategy”)

Revolutionaries see her either: as a mere nationalist provocateur of violence or a true Marxist (Maoist) revolutionary. The latter being most accurate, her life-long commitment to Palestinian liberation, even superseding its importance over other oppression(s) (i.e. the woman question, etc), risking her life on multiple occasions and her contempt with the process of negotiating for “peace” (an example of “combating liberalism”), are simple criterion for a great revolutionary.

Leila Khaled, consistently defamed, labeled a “terrorist”, as “violent” and oft overshadowed, is the among greatest embodiment of the Palestinian struggle. A sound “dialectic materialist”, opposed to Pan-Arabism, always advocating for a one-state solution–the creation (read: return) of a democratic Palestine for all Arabs–regardless of religious affiliation or familial lineage.

Her life, her image and, in essence, her being is one of bravery, tenacity and revolution, therefore solidarity with Leila Khaled is absolutely unquestionable.

Although, in 2014, Palestinians are still not free; the inspiration that Khaled’s words, action and history provide gives me incredible optimism that our fighters will be free–one day, soon.

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Further reading/Sources:

Interview with Leila Khaled, ‘BDS’ is effective but it doesn’t liberate land 

Leila Khaled: Hijacker (English subtitles)

Bio shows why Leila Khaled remains an icon of resistance

“Injustice every day”: An interview with Leila Khaled

‘For me, Palestine is paradise’: An interview with Leila Khaled

**Leon Trotsky: Why Marxists Oppose Individual Terrorism 

Review: “2014 Forest Hills Drive” J. Cole

Opinion

J. Cole, a rapper and songwriter, from Fayetteville, North Carolina.  On December 9th he released his 3rd LP, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, much to the surprise of many when he announced it. Although, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, is only his 3rd major release–he is a veteran–of the rap game. With an array of mix-tapes, and a semi-unprolific underground career, he broke out in 2010 with the release of his highly anticipated mix-tape–Friday Night Lights. Well-known among the mix-tape circuit, with features on many notable tracks including: “A Star is Born”, “Beautiful Bliss”, and “All I want is you”, by Jay-Z, Wale and Miguel–respectively. In 2011, after much anticipation and hard work, Cole World: Sideline Story is released to mixed reviews, sparking the burgeoning career of the–blunt, transplanted Southern MC with an insatiable appetite. After 2 more LPs’ and many other mix-tapes we arrive at this current album–2014 Forest Hills Drive. 

 

J Cole

J. Cole in 13-tracks shows the emotional rawness, and maturity, after almost 6 ‘significant’ years in the game. He begins the album with the “Intro”, a song he released a video before the album came out, which typical of a J. Cole album, lays out the theme of the entire album to come; in this case being love, happiness and freedom. Delving straight into “January 28th” a lyrically verbose track, flexing his muscles and inevitably claiming his throne at the top of the rap game.

2013 -- J. Cole

Next we have “Wet Dreamz”, the pinnacle of Cole’s refined storytelling, poignancy and conceptual framework within this album, following Cole’s earlier years–his ‘virgin years’–and his sojourn to link up with this cutie in his class. He eloquently shows his bravado and false sense of confidence positing “I wrote back and said “[O]f course I had sex before // Knowing I was frontin’ I said // I was like a pro baby // Knowing I was stuntin”–resonating heavily. Without spoiling the end, this story does not cease to disappoint.

J. Cole -- 2014

Moreover, following his prototype since days of the Come Up, he opens his album with an evocative, pathos laced, introduction setting the stage for his fieriest lyrics, “January 28th”, “Wet Dreamz”, “03′ Adolescence” and “Fire Squad”, in essence, leaving the middle filled with ’empty’ content and ending with the revival of his introductory themes. This was most evident in his past LP, Born Sinner. However his instrumentals were definitely a step in the right direction, albeit many tracks were tinged with borderline “over-experimentation”–leaving them undesired. Most prevalent on “G.O.M.D”, on the contrary, beats that were spectacular included: “Fire Squad” and “No Role Modelz”, especially for their move away from the over-saturation of ‘boom-bap’ beats and the diversity of sonic appeals. In sum, I wish that J. Cole used more than his, notoriously well-done, piano led beats, I know he shines well on less-aggressive sounds, laced with strings, keys and horns, but it would have been nice to hear him on more sounds like, “Mr. Nice Watch”, or “Chaining Day”, or (a real throwback) “Split You Up.”

J-Cole

His best LP to this day, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, does not disappoint, in comparison. However, as a stand-alone album, I have a few suggestions. First, this CD was clearly his most politically charged in light of–the tragedy continuing in Ferguson, MO–and his public outcry, but why was he so subversive in his lyrically content in regards to that issue? Clearly the themes he outlines from the beginning, love, happiness and freedom, have a alternate meaning but his album was very covert about these references (I am not advocating for ‘more’ or ‘less’ political references, just urging Cole to be more explicit). Second, the abundance of singing was too much for me. He is not a bad singer, but he isn’t that good either, this was his best effort rapping, in terms of lyrics, flow and sincerity, why not continue it? Lastly, as many have stated this was his most personal and powerful album to-date but the layout and flow of the entire album was exactly the same as all his other LPs’, come on Cole I know you can do better than that.

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Overall though the ‘pros’ far out weighing the ‘cons’, making for a highly replayable album, far from a classic but clearly showing the artistic and emotional growth of Jermaine Cole.


 

Overall Rating: 8/10

Beats: 7.5/10

Lyrics: 8.5/10

Originality: 7/10

Replay Value: 8/10

What else I have been listening to: Welcome to Fazoland by G Herbo aka Lil’ Herb; 6 God by Drake; and anticipating the Bobby Schmurda release.