Monday, January 11, 2010

J. Cole Part 2

J. Cole seems to be everywhere in the past 24 hours, compelling me for the second day in a row to post about him even though I had been hoping to wait a bit. Today saw the release of a new Cole mixtape, "A N**** from the 'Ville", which is a collection of new verses/freestyles/tracks that haven't made it onto his other mixtapes. I'd had heard some of it before - it's awesome - and the new stuff? Just as awesome. It's available for download here.

The way I wanted to introduce J. Cole to my readers was with a full artist profile consisting of tracks, videos and an article. The article's been done for a little while - I wrote it for my school newspaper - but I've just too busy with some other things to put the whole post together. But this new mixtape dropped so I figured it was time to get moving and here we are. The following article is mine. I wrote it and it can only be reprinted with my permission. Feel free to share the link (I encourage it!) but please do not repost it without consulting me.

Welcome to Hip-Hop 101. Your first lesson is on J. Cole...

The Rapper You Need to Know About Right Now

In 2003, rapper J. Cole moved from Fayetteville, North Carolina to New York City looking to sign a record deal and ended up graduating Magna Cum Laude (“with great distinction”) from St. John’s University. He had transplanted himself to the East Coast’s hip-hop headquarters – after all, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Diddy, 3 of the game’s moguls, all have head offices in the Big Apple – so it must have come to his surprise when he stood at the pulpit on graduation day with the wrong piece of paper in hand. He had his diploma but no deal.

But that didn’t deter a young boy “from the ‘Ville”. Within a few months, Cole dropped his first mixtape The Come Up. His rhymes, dope; his flow, infectious; but the beats, save for a few songs, were forgettable and under produced which made it easy for the highlights to really shine through. “Simba” and “School Daze” were introspective tracks and the title track was a great re-working of Consequence’s “Grammy Family”. Cole knew he had something and ran headfirst.

This past summer, he released his second mixtape entitled The Warm Up and absolutely killed it. His lyrics were slicker, smoother and (somehow) better written. Tracks like “Lights Please”, “Dollar and a Dream II” and “Dead Presidents II” catapulted his popularity amongst bloggers and any hip-hop fan with a computer. Radio listeners, I’m sorry, but don’t expect to hear much from Cole on Flow 93.5 or any other FM channel anytime soon.

But it doesn’t seem like he’d mind not getting radio play anyways. Spins shouldn’t be a priority for an artist with such emphatic, quick and highly inappropriate rhymes. He raps about his love of women (check the aforementioned “School Daze”, and pretty much any other track) but takes on more serious topics in his second mixtape like hard work, the importance his mom holds to him and never giving up on “the dream”. On “Last Call”, the final cut of The Warm Up, he takes a few minutes at the end to express his qualms for not getting signed right away after moving to NYC and likens this experience to not making the cut on a high school basketball team.

It’s this transition that marks J. Cole as a rapper. In an interview on the Complex magazine website from a few weeks before The Warm Up came out, he stated that the difference between the two mixtapes “[is] actually way different. You can hear the growth. The content is not even the same. It is ‘cause it still has that dreamer aspect to it but The Come Up was just more raw lyricism…This is more song making and more mature.”

Just before the interview with Complex, an amazing thing happened: Cole got signed. But this signing was uncharacteristically important – a start of what will no doubt soon become a dynasty. After listening to “Lights Please”, renewed man-of-the-hour Jay-Z called Cole and asked him to sign on as the cornerstone of his newly minted, Roc Nation. The dividends came quickly: a guest spot on a Jay-Z’s newest album Blueprint 3 called “A Star is Born” and the invaluable opportunity to join Jay’s all-star cast of openers for his North American tour, alongside legendary produced Pharell Williams and his electronic(ish) outfit N.E.R.D., and fellow Roc Nation-managed artist Wale.

But it’s those few minutes every night of the tour when Jay-Z calls J. Cole onstage to perform “A Star is Born” in front of 15,000+ fans that Cole has to admire himself for where he is and who he’s sharing the stage with. He’s stadium status now performing with an unequivocal legend. And oh ya, dude doesn’t even have a real CD out yet; expect that sometime in 2010.

By: Jonathan Kates

And since I promised some videos and tracks, here we go. The first video is the trailer from his mixtape "The Warm Up" and the second video is really just "Lights Please" as no video was ever released for it.

So that's that. Hope you enjoyed class. Y'all be wilin' and I'm out.

Thanks to Thunderkush for the mixtape link.

1 comment:

  1. DOPENESS. good article man. I applaud you. you did justice to Jermaine's "story". I'm happy to see that there are others out there (although few and far between) that share my appreciation and respect for this man's music.