This one comes to us from Blake Nail

Our culture is obviously in the middle of some division: some think it’s necessary, and others think it’s harmful. It seems people, especially on the internet, are on the hunt to shame, ridicule, or in some cases, completely ruin people’s lives and careers. Albeit sometimes over reasonable issues, not to negate real offense and wrongdoing. Often, though, people are being shamed for having different views, thoughts, and sometimes even associations. It can even be for unintentional offense, for which the mob has no mercy. When the Law comes down on you, it doesn’t hold back.

An example of this is seen through the hilarious Kevin Hart. Last year, Kevin was caught in an affair, and his marriage fell apart. Eventually he remarried and, surprisingly, maintained his career, which has plastered his face everywhere. I think everyone, including Kevin, knew he had wronged his wife and family. You can’t really avoid the effects of an act like that; the whole family feels it, and you pay dearly. Yet people still judged him and continue to judge those that have made a mess of their fidelity. Even if you’ve been faithful, you have most likely shared a passing glance with temptation. That’s without Jesus’ raising of the bar of the Law when, in Matthew 5, he says that to even look with lust is adultery in the heart. If that’s the case, we all have Kevin’s heart.

Now we look to J. Cole, a highly successful, skillful, and conscious rapper. His rap career has displayed a continuous growth in understanding the human condition and how to impact listeners. With amazingly raw and honest storytelling, from personal and communal experiences, he exposes the truth in a unique way—unusual in today’s rap culture.

Today’s rap culture also has the “shame” factor. Many from older generations are bashing and releasing songs, talking down and against young, new upcoming artists in the industry. Complaints about drug abuse glorification, mumble rap, and materialism fall flat with those being criticized and their fans. It feeds the problem and continues the division.

The best way to describe J. Cole’s latest album “K.O.D.” is incarnational. Cole, who is in agreement with the thought that the new rappers are a little lost, understands the human heart. But instead of bashing and making fun, he steps into their world. His album has three meanings: Kids on Drugs, King Overdose and Kill Our Demons. With these three aspects, he addresses the problem in the culture (Kids on Drugs), the addiction issue he finds within himself (King Overdose) and a new way out of this predicament (Kill Our Demons). Numerous times throughout the album he comes from the stand point of “for” rather than “against.” He even addresses personal people in his life that are close to him in a song called “FRIENDS.” He tries to reveal the pain of addiction he sees as their friend, pushing them towards meditation as opposed to medication. These are his people, not his opponents. He has come not to condemn but to save.

One specific song on the album hones in on the issue of infidelity and the temptation to cheat even when you are deeply in love.

Wanna have my cake and another cake too,
even if the baker don’t bake like you,
even if the flavor don’t taste like you

He uses Kevin Hart as imagery for this whole concept and includes him in the music video as well. The music video follows Kevin himself as he shops at the grocery store, and while he is stroller shopping, and at what looks like a business dinner. All along the way the Law follows him around, from glaring judgmental looks, forceful touchy fan girls, and women at the bar who are interested in more than a drink. Kevin escapes to the bathroom as the final lines play:

What’s done in the dark will always find a way to shine
I done did so much that when you see you might go blind.

A truth we can all relate to, but just because the song’s over doesn’t mean the Law has the last word; thankfully, it never does.

A gigantic man walks in and goes to the urinal right next to comparably tiny Kevin. It’s awkward, as grace usually is, because there are about ten other open urinals that he could have used. Kevin shakes his head. Going to wash his hands, the man approaches him again as Kevin angrily asks him what he wants, and the reply he gets is:

Hey man, look, nobody’s perfect and you’re only human.
Learn from it. Just learn from it.

The man touches Kevin’s shoulder and walks away as Kevin contemplates this touch of forgiveness and grace he’s received after a long day of Law. He then looks at his shoulder, realizing the man didn’t wash his hands. J. Cole reveals the truth that we all are humans with dirty hands in need of grace and a touch of forgiveness, even when we try to mask our Kevin’s Heart.