J. Cole and Hip-hop
Hip-hop has just been blessed with who I believe to be one of the genre’s most promising young artists: J.Cole. If you do not know J.Cole, he is Jay-Z’s protégé and is rightfully claiming his place among the higher echelon of rappers. On Sept. 27, he dropped his first studio album, titled Coleworld: Sideline Story. There is nothing in this album that insinuates that Cole will be on the sidelines for long. His album is mostly self-produced and has few features. This album is truly his, and he can claim all of the glory of its imminent success. Cole has been on his grind since he was a young 14-year-old kid from Fayetteville, NC and going by the alias, the Therapist. I have to say, even though his flow was pretty raw and candid at such a young age, he gave me a sense of hunger as he wittily put together his rhymes.
In a time when hip-hop has reached its zenith of diversity, Cole brings back the essence of the “Golden Age of Hip-Hop,” and blends together some more contemporary songs that are radio-friendly. Hopefully his album can get some big numbers and secure his place in the game for some time to come.
I mean, I have not heard such a complete album in a few years now since Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool. I highly urge everyone who claims to be a fan of hip-hop to buy this album: you will not regret it.
From the introduction of the album to the end, Cole takes you on a journey of his own with the stories of those around him and his friends. “My story isn’t the only one I am trying to tell,” is what he has on his Twitter page, and that is most definitely true, the issues that Cole tackles in his album are commendable and are often foreign play for most new popular rappers. In his song “Lights Please,” he describes his conflict with a woman who he wants to drop some knowledge on but she just wants to have sex with him and cares not of the troubles of the world he wants to share with her. Later on in the album, he takes up a dual-perspective in the song “Lost Ones.” This is an argument between a man and a woman who have just found out that a baby is on the way, which causes turmoil in the relationship. The man doesn’t want to bring his child into the world because of his poverty and hints at abortion, and the perspective mother wants to keep the child no matter what. She hounds on the potential husband by recalling the stories he used to tell her of his own deadbeat father and how he did not want to become like him.
Rather than bragging about how he is the “man” and is the freshest or dopest or flyest, Cole takes on real issues that human beings go through in real life. Albeit, these situations may or may not have happened to Cole himself, but they are realistic, relatable and quite possibly a reflection of the circumstances of many people in his hometown.
But this album isn’t entirely introspective and full of deep songs of course. It is rap, and there is some element of braggadocio in the album as evidence by the song “Can’t Get Enough,” featuring R&B singer Trey Songz.
This is what I love about Cole and his album. It is a perfect blend of fun, party songs and some deep songs that are reflective of hip-hop’s true nature. Instead of having an album with only songs that are deep and concerning, Cole has a few songs that are explicitly meant for the radio. He is the blueprint for rappers to come, to be the hybrid of commercial and still be able to keep it real. Again, if you are a fan of hip-hop or think that you may be interested, I suggest that you buy Coleworld: Sideline Story. Remember, it’s a Cole world out there, no snuggie.