The first time I heard of J. Cole was when The Warm Up dropped. A year or two later, I heard he was supporting Drake at Hammersmith Apollo in January 2011. I checked out his music; the first single I heard was “Who Dat” which really did make me like him, I was into the beat and his vocals were interesting. When seeing him live, it was evident he was a confident, young artist (mind you, if you’re signed to Jay-Z, of course you’re going to be confident). He was energetic, he’d interact with the crowd – basically, he was entertaining, very entertaining. Cole has evolved into one of the best rappers in the industry with his new sophomore album Born Sinner. Cole had a mixtape released years ago named The Warm Up, that was what broke him into the ears of a lot of rap enthusiasts like myself. Then, came Friday Night Lights; both are amazing mixtapes, be sure to check them out on either LiveMixtapes or DatPiff. My favourite songs from both of those mixtapes are: “Home For The Holidays”, “Grown Simba”, “Just To Get By”, “Can I Live”, “Enchanted”, “Blow Up”, “Higher”, “Premeditated Murder” and “Looking For Trouble”.
J. Cole is someone I listen to and don’t do anything else. I can walk and listen to J. Cole; that’s probably the only task I can do whilst listening to him because it’s too hard not to just focus on the music if you’re doing something else like work, playing Xbox, whatever else you do whilst listening to music. Cole is the sort of person for you to listen to in many different moods, Cole is the sort of person to really inspire you, really get you going. I like listening to Cole because I can easily switch into different mind sets and focus. You don’t get many artists like that nowadays.
Lyrically, J. Cole is ahead of most rappers, he exhibits that all over Born Sinner, hell, he does it on any project he’s ever done. He’s a smart guy, Cole went to University, got into music and then got signed by HOV. Clever dude doing clever things (especially musically).
Cole’s debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, featured some big hits, “Cole World”, “Nobody’s Perfect” and “Can’t Get Enough”. Also, “Work Out”, which was when Cole thought he’d really done his best and broken into the mainstream ears. However, I have a story to tell you, I’m gonna go a little off course now, but oh well. Cole’s song “Let Nas Down” from his latest album is all about how Nas reacted to this song. No ID phoned Jermaine Cole once “Work Out” dropped and told him that he thought it was trash. Nas was one of Cole’s rap idols growing up, as he explains in “Let Nas Down”, he raps “….I used to print out Nas raps and tape ’em up on my wall” and obviously for him to hear that, he was distraught. Now, for Cole to write a song like that I think that it just shows how real the industry is. You wouldn’t expect an artist to almost write an apology track to another rapper, but that’s Cole’s IDOL, he grew up listening to him. It’s crazy, man. Cole really shows how real everything is. But anyway, forget that story, I thought “Work Out” was a flop too, but I’m no Nas.
The two EPs that Cole dropped before Born Sinner, Truly Yours and Truly Yours 2 showed everyone that Cole wasn’t slacking; with around 5 tracks on each EP, Cole dropped songs that were easily album material. But, he just wanted to make sure everyone knew he was still relevant. As Drake and Kendrick Lamar are, he is also reserved when it comes to social networking, etc. It’s nice, because as I said in my piece about Drake, it’s nice to feel curious about your favourite artists, the excitement is that much sweeter when find out something new.
Let’s talk about Born Sinner, the album that outsold that great Kanye West’s Yeezus. Cole was actually meant to drop his album a week after Ye’s, but, he didn’t want to be known as the guy that ‘dropped that album a week after Kanye’, he’s not that guy. He was the guy then, he stepped up and met expectations; probably even exceeded them. The album all the way through is great to listen to, I am currently enjoying listening to the whole album, every song is well-produced, well orchestrated, well put together and definitely well thought out. Cole obviously worked his ass off on this album and it really did pay off. What is annoying is that I think Cole didn’t get half the recognition he deserved, but hey, that’s what you get when you drop an album the summer that Kanye West, Jay-Z, Mac Miller, Wale and Big Sean are too. My favourite songs from the album would have to be: “Power Trip”, “Crooked Smile”, “Niggaz Know”, “Let Nas Down” and “She Knows”.
I think “Power Trip” is easily one of the songs of the year, for one simple reason, Cole was so open about the production and the production on it is absolutely amazing. It’s a great track, a great feature with Miguel and an amazing single for the album. Check the video below to see the making of the song:
But altogether, J. Cole is one of my favourite artists due to his lyricism and pure work ethic and most importantly, his love for MUSIC, not for the money and the fame like some rappers that can’t even rhyme something with ‘cat’ and just talk about the strip club, sipping lean and getting stoned. J. Cole is the future (along with a few others).