Addiction, Depression, Anxiety, Drugs, Stress, Recovery, Mental Health, Loneliness, Trauma, Stigma, Sounds, Song, Treatment.


Disclaimer: Please note that the following post discusses a song which contains some explicit lyrics. 

The song “FRIENDS” is a track from artist J. Cole’s 2018 album “KOD”. This song is a conversation between Cole and his suspected alter ego “kiLL edward” about some of the struggles related to mental health and drug abuse.

Edward represents a person who has chosen to self-medicate with drugs because they are overwhelmed by their mental health issues: 

“I got thoughts, can’t control

Got me down, got me low

Rest my mind, rest my soul

When I blow, when I blow

Am I wrong, let them know

Feels so right to let things go

Don’t think twice, this is me

This is how I should be…”

Cole’s response to this begins with an expression of empathy about the difficulties of living without drugs once you’re used to coping with them:

“But I’m aggravated without it

My saddest days are without it

My Saturdays are the loudest

I’m blowing strong

Some n****s graduated to powder

I dabble later, I doubt it

My database of narcotics

It’s growing long”

After this, his lyrics then begin to unpack some of the more complicated reasons behind why people end up addicted to drugs, with the overall message of this section being that drug addiction is complicated issue involving personal, social and sometimes political factors:

“What I’m tryna say is the blame can go deep as seas

Just to blame ’em all I would need like twenty CD’s

There’s all sorts of trauma from drama that children see

Type of s*** that normally would call for therapy

But you know just how it go in our community

Keep that s*** inside it don’t matter how hard it be

Fast forward, them kids is grown and they blowing trees

And popping pills due to chronic anxiety”

Towards the end, Cole expresses sympathy at the fact that drugs can sometimes feel helpful in the moment but warns Edward that the consequences of drug abuse can be grim. He encourages Edward to try an alternative to drugs- specifically, meditation.

“I know you say it helps and no I’m not trying to offend

But I know depression and drug addiction don’t blend

Reality distorts and then you get lost in the wind

And I done seen the combo take n****s off the deep end

One thing about your demons they bound to catch up one day

I’d rather see you stand up and face them than run away

I understand this message is not the coolest to say

But if you down to try it I know of a better way


Check out the full song and lyrics at

Image Credits:
Feature Image: Chang Duong, on Unsplash, Creative Commons