Fire Squad

Album: 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)
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Songfacts®:

  • Over Vinylz's bass-heavy beat, J. Cole raps here about his rise from the bottom. The North Carolina rapper is no longer a struggling artist and is now ready to "go toe to toe with the giants."
  • In the third verse Cole raps about the white appropriation of black culture. His bi-racial background gives him a different perspective to most:

    History repeats itself and that's just how it goes
    Same way that these rappers always bite each other's flows
    Same thing that my n---a Elvis did with rock and roll
    Justin Timberlake, Eminem and then Macklemore


    Rock and Roll was generally made by black people until Elvis Presley came along. Chuck D previously addressed the King's lifting of traditional black musical elements in his rise as a rock icon on the third verse of Public Enemy's "Fight The Power."

    Eminem was a big inspiration for Cole when he was starting out and he denied to Power 105.1 host Angie Martinez that he is insulting the Slim Shady rapper."My first song sounded like an Eminem bite. If you think I'm dissing Eminem, I know you just read the headline, or you're listening to the song with the headline in mind," the North Carolina rhymer insisted.

    "That headline that you saw, it's not the truth. It's a perspective that someone took and tried to give you the most enticing headline," Cole added. "Why? So they can make money. No disrespect; this whole system is not set up to bring truth. It's not set up to bring the real news. The news isn't set up to inform you. It's set up to make money."
  • Vinylz previously co-produced Drake's "5AM In Toronto" and "0 to 100." He also crafted "A Tale of 2 Citiez" for Cole's Forest Hills Drive album. The New York producer was introduced to Cole after the North Carolina rapper heard his work during a session with Jeremih. "J. Cole reached out to me, and said, 'Man, I love your sound, I would love to sit and build with you. I don't really mess with too many producers, but I really like your sound and it'd be an honor for me to sit with you and work,'" Vinylz told MTV News.

    "'Fire Squad' was the first record we worked on," he added. "He started the beat, so I went to his crib in L.A. where he had a studio built in, and he played me that record."

    "It was a skeleton basically, and he said, 'I'd love for you to work on this beat,' so we got right to it, changed it up and then he just started rapping right there," Vinylz continued. "I only heard the first verse and the lyrical content was already crazy."
  • 2014 Forest Hill Drive is the home address of Cole's mom's home in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The rapper purchased the house back in June 2014 for $121,000 when it was in foreclosure. "It was validation, it was vindication for them foreclosing this place [on] my mom, and it was also a symbol for me like I know what's important. You can't run from home," he told Complex on why he purchased the property.

    Cole added that Fayetteville is one of the places in the world where he feels most comfortable. "When I'm home, I'm either stopping through to visit or I'm doing something for the [Dreamville] Foundation," he said. "I might get an extra day to see friends and family but then it's off to the next thing. I've never been there long enough to feel comfortable and think, 'This is home,' not until I was home doing a cover shoot for the album."

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