Ask most people about some of the young artists in hip-hop and you’re likely to hear about Drake, Wiz Khalifa, and maybe even Big Sean; but the budding star everyone should be buzzing about hails from North Carolina and goes by the name of J. Cole. Many first heard of J. Cole back in 2009, when he was the first artist to sign with Jay-Z’s new record label, Roc Nation. At that point, the common hip hop listener most likely didn’t know the remarkable path J. Cole had followed. While most rappers scoff at education, extolling that they knew from the time they were a child that college wasn’t a possibility, J. Cole overcame these obstacles and attended St. John’s University in New York City on a full academic scholarship, graduating magna cum laude. While this may not seem atypical, it won’t come as much of a surprise upon listening to his music. Cole raps with rare, diversified vocabulary. This, coupled with varied rhyme schemes, introspective lyrics, and unparalleled flow, provides Cole with a style of hip hop reminiscent of that of the moguls the industry has missed for years. However, don’t be fooled by his informative lyrics as Cole’s music has a bite to it, and the edge his songs have to them allows his determination and commitment to “making it” seep into the listeners ears.
J. Cole has proved his fearlessness on his widely praised mixtape The Warm Up, attacking beats from songs such as “Get By”, “Dead Presidents”, and “Last Call” that had already been made famous by the likes of Talib Kweli, Jay-Z, and Kanye West respectively. Cole also proved how well rounded an artist he is on the tape, not only producing fierce lyrics, but also making slower paced, reflective songs such as “Show Me Something.” In addition, like Kanye, Cole produces a lot of his own songs, a practice he takes equal pride in. Since the tape, Cole has done tracks with the likes of Jay-Z, Wale, Talib Kweli, Jay Electronica, Mos Def, Drake, Kanye West, and Pusha T. The most impressive part about it is that Jermaine didn’t only join these legends to make a song, but outshone every single one of them on the given collaboration. Combine these feats and there is only one logical next step in Cole’s career: to release a debut album.
Cole first announced that he’d officially be releasing an album under the Roc Nation label early in 2010, but to this date, he has yet to deliver on this promise. The album was originally supposed to drop in the summer of 2010, but despite having the commercially popular single “Blow Up”, which ironically recently was featured on a video game commercial, the album still remains without a release date or even a title. Speculations are that the label wants Cole to have a radio hit before he releases an album in an attempt to ensure high record sales, but the reality is J. Cole really won’t ever be the type of artist that is going to become mainstream. In fact, while fans remain optimistic the album likely will continue to be pushed aside while he spends most of the upcoming months opening for Rihanna on her tour. Cole has stated that he wants the album to be one of the “realest” albums in recent memory, all J. Cole, all heart, all dedication, with the only feature being his mentor and idol himself, Jay-Z. Whenever he decides to drop the album, the name of which has been rumored to be The Blow Up amongst other names, it is sure to satisfy and while the whole rap world waits in anticipation there’s one thing for sure, it’s a Cole World.
-Ryan Martin, host of Vibes And Stuff Mondays from 8-9 PM