Are the kids on drugs? Endless articles about younger millennials and Gen Z seem to say no: they now prefer to just stay in and Snapchat their friends while drinking green juice instead. J Cole, however, says yes. That’s right: your friends’ friend that wears Huaraches’ favourite rapper released his fifth album, KOD last Friday, AKA the most wonderful day of the year, 4/20. Cole has said the album has multiple meanings, standing for 'Kids on Drugs,' 'King Overdosed,' 'Kill Our Demons' – for all intents and purposes here, we're going with the first one. And as everyone who can't get that weed stench off their hoodies knows, 4/20 is a sacred day in cannabis culture. Thousands of stoners in particular descend on central London's Hyde Park each year to protest through civil disobedience/celebrate their favourite herb by sparking one up and getting high as fuck. Unfortunately, a lot of stoners are also really lame.
On a positive note, this means they may appreciate more of the earnest sort of rap that Cole makes. At this stage, you should know that J Cole's KOD was streamed 4.2 million times on Spotify over the weekend, breaking the previous record of 3.8 million set by Taylor Swift. But, like, who are all these listeners? And, more importantly considering the date of the album release: Do they smoke weed?
Here's a loose theory: 'stoners love ‘intellectual’ rap (hiiii Immortal Technique)', and J Cole is our generation’s Immortal Technique, but with preachy advice about shallow women rather than the New World Order. With all this in mind, I decided to see if I could find some kids on drugs listening to Kids On Drugs. I threw some eye drops in my bag and headed towards Speaker’s Corner feeling like that 'fellow kids' screengrab of Steve Buscemi from 30 Rock that everyone over the age of 26 on Twitter is always posting. Amid a sea of holographic Hype backpacks, Instagram live broadcasts and weed smoke thick enough to obscure the bottom couple inches of the sky, I found my answers.
Noisey: Hey are you a J. Cole fan?
Hanif: I do like his music, but I haven't heard any of his new stuff.
What's your favourite album?
Are you going to listen to his new album Kids On Drugs?
I listened to a bit this morning – it came out today right?
Yeah, that's pretty good going. Do you have a favourite conspiracy theory?
Syria. I think the gas attacks were staged. I believe it happened but... the last time there was a gas attack, the Syrian army was winning, a week before the gas attack the US announced they were gonna pull out all the troops from Syria. Putin put it well. Why would they have a reason for the gas attacks? It's contradictory.
Okay well that got serious pretty quickly. No lizard people?
Nah. it's more just when things don't add up. Like 9/11, and the fact that the architects were saying there's no way the steel beams could have melted from jet fuel. I studied media and I think it taught me you can't just accept what's given to you.
Do you think you question things more because you smoke weed?
Of course that adds to it – even when you're doing normal things when you're high you question it. When you're sending a text you're like “does this sound right?” [laughs].
Hi Grubbo. You a J. Cole fan?
Grubbo: I haven’t listened to him since Forest Hills Drive – I’m not really checking for him. His flow is cold but yeah... I prefer Kendrick.
What's your favourite Kendrick song?
An old school one, "H.O.C." From when he was called K-Dot still.
So what's your favourite strain?
Gelato. It's a mad one, will lick off your head.
And how are you going to spend the rest of 4/20?
Smoke some dope, talk to some more females like yourself... just get on with it really.
KITTY & ASHA, 19 & 17
Hi guys! Can I talk to you about weed and J. Cole?
Kitty: Yeah I know J. Cole. But I haven't really listened to him since Forest Hills Drive. That was like the album of my summer in Year 11.
What's your favourite song on Forest Hills Drive?
Kitty: Obviously "No Role Modelz" is kind of a ting, but "G.O.M.D." – that bangs.
Is he your favourite rapper?
Kitty: He used to be!
Kitty: The UK rap stuff... when people stopped just making grime and started doing the sort of shit J. Cole does which is deep and kind of melodic, whereas grime was just like hard. So I started listening to more UK music.
Is this your first 4/20 in Hyde Park?
Asha: Nah, we came last year as well with a big group and said we're definitely gonna come back.
What's your favourite strain of weed?
Asha: Stardawg is the thing right now, but the best weed I've ever smoked is some Spanish Ammi.
Is all the medical weed easy to get here now?
Asha: Yeah it's super easy in London, but as long as it's not spice and it gets me lean I don't care. Fuck spice.
Do you prefer hash or skunk?
Asha: Skunk. I like hash but skunk is usually what I get – I don't live in London so there's less opportunity.
SEB AND "FRIEND", BOTH 19
Do you fuck with J. Cole?
Seb: Not really, no.
Who's your favourite rapper?
Seb: Does Dr Dre count?
Yeah of course. What about you?
Friend: I don't really listen to rap...
Seb: She listens to trumpet music.
Friend: Yeah, I play a lot of jazz.
Is this the first time you've spent 4/20 in Hyde Park?
Seb: Yeah. One of my boys lives down the street behind Park Lane.
Is your boy a millionaire?
Seb: Nah, it's uni accommodation.
What are we smoking on right now?
[N.B: This interview was cut short because of a sudden change of demeanour when I started asking questions about Stardawg. I just wanted to up my weed game Seb ☹]
BRYNN & NELL, 16 & 17
Hi guys! Did you know J. Cole released an album today called Kids on Drugs?
Nell: Yes, but I don't listen to him much.
A lot of people I've spoken to seem to have moved on from him as they got older. Were you ever into him?
Nell: I've only listened to Forest Hills Drive.
The consensus seems to be that that's his best album.
Nell: Is he doing something with Kanye West?
I actually have no idea; I'm not up to date with all the Kanye tweets from this week yet. Did you guys come here specifically for 4/20?
Nell: Yeah, we don't even live here - we came from Kent!
Brynn: It was a 2 hour train journey.
Was it worth it?
Brynn: It's quite cool.
Would you get high with J Cole?
Brynn: Yeah, why not.
Do you have any conspiracy theories?
Brynn: About J Cole?
Sure, why not?
What do you think of J. Cole's new album?
Alfonso: He's a bit wet. He's like a rebore Kendrick. Are you high?
Do you ever get nervous?
Are you single?
Could you get me a job on VICE?
No. I feel like you're the type to be really into conspiracy theories. Am I right?
Yeah I watch a lot of Youtube videos.
What's your favourite conspiracy theory?
Tell me more.
It's a site in Turkey that was built by an ancient civilisation that was wiped out, and they were far more advanced than we are.
Is that a conspiracy theory? I can get behind that.
So you think there were people before us in ancient times that were more advanced technologically than we are?
Yeah. And there was like nuclear war and shit. A lot of like Sikh or Buddhism texts have a lot of graphic descriptions that basically describe like a nuclear holocaust, so they assume that they had crazy shit going on and then it all got nuked and they were left with just little stone huts. There are no clouds in the sky, it's so nice to look at. It feels so pure on my eyes.
Alfonso, thank you.
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.