J. Cole’s name has been floating around the hip-hop community for a few years now, but nobody quite knew what to expect from Cole World: The Sideline Story. Releasing an album isn’t nearly as easy as it used to be, and gone are the days when a debut album was truly a debut. To release an album in the hip-hop world today, an artist must first establish themselves by releasing hundreds of free songs and multiple successful mixtapes. Cole has done this over the past 4 years or so, but getting a record label (in Cole’s case Roc Nation) to approve a debut album is merely the beginning. Often times labels will force artists to commercialize their music to boost sales, causing artists to abandon the style which garnered them fans. Couple this with the expectations that accompany an album years in the making, and artists face the seemingly impossible challenge of pleasing both fans and their label, while still putting out a quality piece of work that is true to the vision of the artist.
These were all concerns that I and many others rightfully had as Cole’s album was continually pushed back, particularly because Cole has a raw style that is tough to release to a broad audience. However, the album finally arrived, and to the relief of many he stayed true to himself and released an album marked by its impressive production, creative lyrics, and unmatched rhymes. Read More »