Why Everyone Needs To Listen To J. Cole At Least Once

Why Everyone Needs To Listen To J. Cole At Least Once

J. Cole's music can really change a person's life.
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There is no secret that I am a huge J. Cole fan and love all of his work, past and present. As I was trying to figure out what to write about for this week, I stopped and looked at my first J. Cole CD. Then it hit me. I'll write about one of my biggest inspirations and give a few reasons why everyone needs to listen to J. Cole at least once. You don't have to become a fan, but giving him a listen won't hurt.

J. Cole's music is the best music for when you wanna think deep. I have a Spotify playlist that I listen to when I need to write or work on homework. And J. Cole encompasses a lot of the playlist because his flow is just mellow. I don't always want to listen to rap music and feel like I need to get up and bounce around.

Great rap music can have you think about life and Cole does this best for me in the song "4 Your Eyez Only". And yes, the "eyez" is supposed to be spelled with a "z." This song is about a character that is seen throughout Cole's album, "4 Your Eyez Only," and it is in a letter to a little girl named Nina from her deceased father.

Cole raps the letter to the little girl and it has a tone that is depressing but catches the audience's attention. In the final verse, Cole switches into his own words and tells the little girl about her father, "your daddy was a real n****, not 'cause he was hard. Not because he lived a life of crime and sat behind some bars. Not because he screamed, 'F*** the law.' Although that was true. Your daddy was a real n**** cause he loved you." This part of the song is such a hit in the stomach that you can't just listen to it and not feel something. Cole can just tap into the emotions of the audience and deliver amazing bars.

Besides Cole being a go-to when it comes to deep thinkers, he is just a great lyricist. One of my favorite lines that makes me laugh is when J. Cole is guest featured on Janet Jackson's song "No Sleep". Cole raps, "But too scared to say cause we know how this seems. Thinking, maybe we'd be better off friends with benefits." Cole is just having a good time and rapping about love and friendship with comedy. Another song that I know people are familiar with is his hit single, "Work Out". In this song, Cole is having fun with saying him and this girl should get together and "work out." This is one of his most mainstream songs and not a personal favorite of mine, but I still love his work.

If you want to be a deep thinker, but you want a banger as well. Then Cole is the go-to for that type of music as well. So is Kendrick Lamar, but we aren't going to talk about him today.

Cole is featured in the song with his fellow Dreamville artist, Bas. In "My N**** Just Made Bail", we see both Bas and Cole giving us bars that make you want to chill with friends and have a few beers. But, Cole being Cole has to always sneak in a conscience line somewhere in the song. He says, "This is for my new chick tryin' get fit, say she too thick. Ain't no such thing as too thick, what you wanna be a toothpick?" Here Cole is talking about body image and how women shouldn't try to conform to the public's idea of sexy. Cole doesn't mind the thick girls. He also does this in "Crooked Smile".

"And they all look like my eyebrows: thick as hell. Love yourself, girl, or nobody will. Though you a woman I don't know how you deal. With all the pressure to look impressive and go out in heels." This whole song shows Cole's compassion towards women and the struggles that they face in this society that is unappreciative of our women.

For my first article for The Odyssey, I wrote on how I view Cole as hip hop's MLK. This is yet another reason why everyone should listen to Cole at least once. He gives us songs that are nothing short of a masterpiece. And I know that me being a huge fan seems that I am being biased. Well, I may be biased towards Cole, but hip-hop fans have to admit that even though Cole doesn't top the charts like the Migos, Drake, Future or Kendrick Lamar, he is still one of the best in the game. One of Cole's shortest songs, "Want You to Fly", is one of my favorites and I will end the article with it.

"God is real and he using me for a bigger purpose. So, f*** the world that would have thought that a n**** worthless. Sometimes I think that these verses can help a person way more than the ones they readin' in churches on days of worship. No disrespect to the Lord and Savior, that ain't just ego. I just observe that them words no longer relate to people. Cause modern times be flooded with dollar signs."

Those lyrics speak to me so well that I find it extremely hard to not listen to this song at least four or five times in a row. He talks about the impact of religion in our world today. He tackles the problems of modern times and hits every word with emphasis and proves that he does not care about the fame or money. He is concerned with making sure humanity, especially those who people forget about it, have a chance to fly and succeed in life.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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The Key To Ending Your First Draft Blues

Or at least getting through the next chapter with your hair intact
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Ah, the first draft. We’ve all been there as writers. The day we decide to turn a blank word document into a 70,000 word (or more) masterpiece. Or, at least, that’s always the aim. Often as first-time writers, we go into the experience blind, learning as we go, and never really knowing whether what we’re doing is right or wrong.

It can be frustrating at times, as most first drafts are a test of sanity. As somebody who had written ten first draft books (nearing eleven) in six years, I have had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to first drafts.

My first book ever took me four years just to write it, I started at the age of sixteen and finished by the time I was twenty. A year later I had written another. I then wrote one in thirty days, and nowadays I write about three to four books a year.

My point is, there is no science to writing. It is all about learning how to do it, and finding the methods that suit you best. I just wish I could have had someone to tell me all of that when I started.

With that in mind, here are my five pieces of advice on how to write your first draft:

#5 Embrace the Terribleness

The first draft is always the worst version of any story. The sooner you accept it, the easier it is to move forward with your work. So you misspell a few words so bad that even Word can't help you. That shouldn't stop you from going with the flow. Your dialogue will feel hammier than a "Star Wars" film, but you'll clean it up the second time around. You're not expected to create a masterpiece on the first go, so just enjoy the ride.

#4 Suffer for your Art

Writing can be hard. I've said it enough times already, but it's true. You have to be prepared to suffer for it. The reason my first book took four years to write was because I didn't commit to it. The reason I wrote 80,000 words in thirty days was because I committed myself to write at least 1,000 words a day. Now I average 3,000 daily. Is it painful to force 3,000 words to the page every day? Yes, but that's what you have to do to get the draft finished.

#3 Take your Time

Now I know this goes against what I just said, but it's important that you go at the pace you want to. I was happier writing 1,000 words a day, but I was eighteen then. At twenty-three, I'll never get everything done going at 1,000 words a day. Commit yourself to writing every day, even if its only 200 words. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You'll get to the finishing line quicker if you jog a steady pace rather than adopting a sprint and rest mentality.

#2 Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Yes, it's important to remember what colour your character's hair is, which one is taller, and what weapon they are carrying. Although with that said, it is important to keep going forward. In my editing, I go over everything with a fine comb, often with a character profile at my side. Don't get bogged down giving every little detail the first time around, you'll have time for that later. The hardest thing is getting it down the first time.

#1 Keep the Story Going at All Costs

This kind of goes without saying, but it is by far the most important step for me. You have to keep moving forward. It doesn't matter if you have to use the biggest Deus ex machina to get your plot going again, you can always edit it away in the re-draft. I use a technique called automatic writing, which means that I don't plan every detail of a chapter. I simply write it as I go. This allows me to give my characters natural reactions as events often come as a surprise to me too.

Obviously it is good to have a rough idea of what is meant to happen, but as long as you can get your characters from A to B, then you are half way there. The other half will be polishing it to the point you can see your reflection.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Cover Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Writer%27s_Block_I.jpg

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4 Steps To Writing a Haiku

It's Fun I Promise
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You've probably had to write a haiku for English sometime in your school career. You most likely found it boring, or difficult, or just plain stupid. I am going to try and show you a more fun way to write a haiku.

1. The Basics: What You Should Know

In case you don't know, a haiku is a Japanese poem that is only three lines long. It is usually taught that the syllables in each line should go 5-7-5. But really, as long as there are 17 syllables or less in the three lines, it's a haiku.

2. Write to Get a Reaction

When you write a haiku, you are aiming to get one of three reactions: Aaaahhh, aha!, or ha ha! For example...

Aaahhh: Laying in bed/dog next to me under blanket/my furry heater

Aha!: Life is too short to love people/who do not deserve/your whole heart

Ha ha!: I'm on the toilet/and my stomach drops/the roll is empty

3. Create an Image

In your writing, you want to create a new image in your readers mind with each line. Take my first haiku for example. I first talk about laying in bed. Then, I say there is a dog next to me under the blanket, so you picture a lump under the covers. In my last line, I call him a furry heater so you imagine a heater covered in fur. The image you create is more important than the syllables.

4. Performing

Lastly, you need to think about performing your haiku. As always, when you're speaking in front of a room of people, you need to project so the whole room can hear you and you need to make eye contact. Another thing to remember is the tone of your voice while you are saying your poem. Dramatic pauses can keep people on the edge of their seat, waiting for what you're going to say next. You also have to remember to be confident! And if you're not confident, fake it till you make it!

Cover Image Credit: Imgur

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