J.Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story – Review
There is obviously a certain pressure when the entire Hip-Hop world is expecting nothing but greatness from your debut album, however prior to the release of J Cole’s “Cole World: The Sideline Story” the Jay-Z protégée continues to display that confidence we have grown to love. September 27th will mark a highly significant date in the Hip-Hop calendar, as Cole World: The Sideline Story will finally be released worldwide into the eardrums of millions of eager fans and critiques alike. As almost expected, the album has leaked onto the Internet following a listening party in London, however the general consensus is fans have already pre-ordered Cole World, and refuse to download the leak. This alone signifies the special circumstances surrounding this man and his music. J Cole was quoted today saying
Looking at the track listing and the guest features and production involved, the foundations aren’t quite built for a classic. J.Cole has steadily crafted (and majority produced) Coles World into what everybody hopes will be shelved alongside the great debut releases, including the album being constantly compared to (The Blueprint, Jay-Z). I’d like to state my views early on, and in no way compare this not only to The Blueprint, but any other Hip-Hop album historically or in recent times. J.Cole deserves the attention and respect of being reviewed and critiqued as an individual, and in absolutely no way do I feel he sits in the shadow of Jay-Z or any other mentor to date. That being said the music speaks for itself.
Everybody knows this was never another “Friday Night Lights”. J.Cole has worked on turning from a verse writer to a fully polished song writer (a task many underestimate). Great examples of this were evident early on, with the leaked single “Sideline Story” which is a brilliant testament to what the whole album stands for. Sideline Story was a fantastic track for fans prior to the release, and not only built suitable awareness but set the standard for the rest of the album. J.Cole originally dropped “Who Dat” sixteen months before the album release date, and was eventually dropped from the final track listing as it did little to no promotional work for the forthcoming album. Fans have to look no further than the title track “Cole World” for another display of stylistic perfection and J.Cole on perfect form. I’d highlight this as a fan favourite amongst a collection of high quality narrative singles, and a track to reference when reflecting on the name of the album “Cole World: A Sideline Story”.
A question that may remain on the lips of fans until their next collaboration was the direction of the single “In The Morning” ft Drake. When I saw two of the most prolific and relevant Hip-Hop artists collaborate on the project, I was crossing every part of my body for a boom-bap rap record (a premo beat would have been perfect) but instead I listen to a low-tempo “Can I hit it in the morning” chorus driven record. The trust in Cole World being a classic was further being drained when I saw Missy Elliott listed as a feature on “Nobody’s Perfect”. Please don’t interpret my disappointment as disrespect, but I felt the collaboration has hardly necessary and wasn’t the typical sound that Missy Elliott has being associated with over the years. Saying this, the song turned out great and is definitely one of the better collaborative features. The other two guest appearances are of course Jay-Z on “Mr Nice Watch” (great track) and Trey Songz on the second single “Can’t Get Enough”. At this point I’m afraid J.Cole has prioritised financial /commercial success over his creative control (even though he produced or co-produced all but three tracks from the album).
Progressing through the album I start to feel J.Cole producing and creating music that not only he wants to hear, but his fans are desperately hoping for. The likes of “Rise and Shine” which DEFINITELY should have featured Jay-Z instead of “Mr Nice Watch” is Cole at his best, along with “Never Told” which brings out Cole’s effortless yet addictive flow. To fully restore faith in Coles World the track “Daddys Little Girl” can only be described as epic throughout every aspect of the track. I sit in comfort knowing that “Lost Ones” and of course “Dollar and a Dream III” will certainly not be overlooked, and the majority of the population of J.Cole fans will appreciate the audiably progression in his production.
To fit with the narrative / story telling style of Cole’s World here is my epilogue. Creatively and stylistically I completely agree with exactly what J.Cole has done from his original idea to push the album back, to obviously taking massive feedback and tutoring from Jay-Z. Additionally Coles World will easily be recognised as a monumental release not only in 2011, but for years to come from any sort of Hip-Hop fan. I don’t think it will rate amongst the classic releases of debut albums but will rank highly within any collectors discography. As Brian “B.Dot” Miller quoted “I hope all 802,873 of @jcolenc followers buy a fuckin’ CD September 27th” and you can do the same from the pre-order link above.