"Apparently" by J. Cole [excerpt from verse 1]:
Think back to Forest Hills, no perfect home
But the only thing like home I've ever known
Until they snatched it from my mama
And foreclosed her on the loan
I'm so sorry that I left you there to deal with that alone
I was up in New York City chasing panties, getting dome
Had no clue what you was going through
How could you be so strong?
And how could I be so selfish, I know I can be so selfish.
What does it mean to be sincere? Can someone ever truly be genuine, or is the idea of sincerity simply an unattainable concept, a construct that society prefers to impose over itself as to feel true in nature. It is possible that one can be true, through and through. But, true only to themselves.
Apologies are a form of communication through which one can either convey their genuine emotions, or it can be a platform used to reassure oneself or another with a facade. Music is one of many ways in which a message can be conveyed either truthfully or not. Artist J. Cole, known for his use of rap to deliver a powerful message, took a stab at an apology text in his song "Apparently", released on December 9, 2014. In this song, Cole reflects on how he has treated his mother and what their relationship has experienced, as well as takes the chance to apologize to his mother in the hopes of repairing any damage he has done to their relationship.
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J. Cole's breakout album is entitled "2014 Forest Hills Drive,'' referring to his childhood home, which he describes in the song as "no perfect home, but the only thing like home [he has] ever known". This house which he cherishes so much represents his relationship with his mother in this song, as Cole often describes both as something he once held dear, then neglected when he left in pursuit of musical success. More than anything, his ambition drove him to focus solely on himself, for which he now feels remorse and wishes to make right by way of apology, for which he dedicates the first verse of "Apparently".
Cole uses tone to express in his lyrics and verbally the extent to which he feels regret and wishes to repair any broken pieces of the relationship he once had and now wishes to have again. He also uses structure to set up and take the reader through his journey of leaving home due to ambition, being able to provide for his family because of it, but then losing the relationship he held so dear, as well as neglecting those whom he loved and still loves.
This continued metaphor Cole uses comparing his relationship with his mother to the nostalgic feelings that he observes about his childhood home is a key feature of this text which demonstrates how Cole wishes to express not a simple story or fable, but rather his truth and his emotion. He further describes the events which led him to this reflection, detailing how his home was snatched ... from [his] mama" and how she was "foreclosed ... on the loan." The event did occur in real life as explained by Cole in the song. ("J. Cole – Apparently")
While some artists choose to fabricate the events of their song, Cole typically stays true to his real events as to speak his truth, which tends to resonate with his listeners. Though this apology seems extremely personal in nature, Cole chose to convey his message through a song. It's possible that he thinks other young people can relate to his story of neglecting someone they should be helping and wants to encourage people to do so.
He then recounts how when he was spending his time in New York City, his mother was dealing with these issues and said that he "Had no clue what [she] was going through", then asking "How could [she] be so strong?" This song was Cole's way of apologizing to his mother for feeling that he had neglected her in a time of need. He owns up to his mistakes and seeks true forgiveness, saying "I'm so sorry that I left you there to deal with that alone."
While his message is clear, what can always be argued with an apology is the validity; one can either apologize in the hopes of receiving forgiveness and mending a broken relationship, or one can apologize with a separate plan, possibly using this apology simply to benefit oneself. The ladder of these two possibilities plays into the idea of Homo Economicus, which is the idea that everything one does is with self interest in mind first and foremost ("Homo Economicus | Behavioraleconomics.Com | The BE Hub"). Cole demonstrates the authentic nature of his apology by relieving all others of blame in his situation and goes against his self-interest by calling himself out, asking "how could I be so selfish?"
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The story of "Apparently" follows a young artist, struggling with his new success and ambitions as well as his existing relationships, resulting in an issue of culture and identity. This is where Cole decides to become more honest to and about himself, reflecting on his nature. This apology is not only to his mom, but to himself, for letting himself lose who he once was, the man he once was, in his ambition.
"Apparently" provides a real example of a sincere, meaningful apology stemming from a broken relationship. J. Cole gives insight into his story of how his childhood house, owned by his mother, had been taken from her. While they foreclosed her on the loan, Cole was nowhere to be seen, instead focusing on himself, thus neglecting her.
He feels tremendously remorseful for this and it shows in his writing and voice, as he apologizes through a meaningful verse of regret. This text is proof of how personal and genuine an apology can be.
"J. Cole – Apparently". Genius, 2019, https://genius.com/J-cole-apparently-lyrics. Accessed 9 Oct 2019.
"Apparently By J. Cole - Songfacts". Songfacts.Com, 2019, https://www.songfacts.com/facts/j-cole/apparently. Accessed 9 Oct 2019.
"Homo Economicus | Behavioraleconomics.Com | The BE Hub". Behavioraleconomics.Com | The BE Hub, 2019, https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/resources/mini-encyclopedia-of-be/homoeconomicus/. Accessed 9 Oct 2019.
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