Did J. Cole abandon his featureless approach?

On Wednesday, the 33-year-old rapper lifted the curtain on the KOD tracklist, which included 12 songs along with two feature credits belonging to a mysterious artist called kiLL edward. This detail immediately raised eyebrows for a couple of reasons:

1. Cole’s last two albums—2014 Forest Hills Drive and 4 Your Eyez Only—were 100 percent solo efforts, and
2. Those who attended the KOD listening party claimed the project did not include any guest appearances.

So, who the hell is kiLL edward, then?

Fans have spent Wednesday afternoon searching through the internet in attempt to identify the unknown act. And it seems the general consensus is that kiLL edward is actually J. Cole’s alter ego.

The theory makes sense, too. On Wednesday, fans noticed a verified SoundCloud account belonging to kiLL edward. The page listed one song called “tidal wave (Just a little reference),” which his since been released on Apple Music and Spotify.

It’s a singing track that sounds a lot like Cole with a lower pitch. Several fans have uploaded faster versions of the song, which basically confirm kiLL edward is Cole's alter ego. Take a listen below.

Though this is an interesting method, it isn't necessarily new in hip-hop. Pharrell did this under his Skateboard P alias, and Nas did this with his female rapper alter ego “Scarlett.” 

It's also important to note that Cole's previous album, 4 Your Eyez Only, was partly told from a perspective that wasn't Cole's. Producer Elite revealed this to Complex back in 2016:

There is another perspective that he is speaking from on this album, and that’s what he wanted to make clear. There are moments where it parallels him and he speaks from his own perspective. “Neighbors” is a step outside for a second, but it’s still a commentary on the overall theme. But the album is largely from a perspective that is not J. Cole.

Perhaps this will be an ongoing theme in Cole's future albums—using alter egos to tell a story that goes beyond his own perspective.

KOD is set to drop this Friday.