J. Cole

[Album Review] J. Cole – Born Sinner

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June 18th was a big day in music, incase you were living under a rock. The almighty Kanye West released Yeezus, while J. Cole and Mac Miller released both their sophomore efforts. Most are trying to compare Cole and Ye’s LP’s, but you can’t. That’s like comparing LeBron and Jordan. Two different positions, and in this instance, two different genres. You can’t compare a shooting guard and a small forward, and you can’t compare  Ye’s alternative-who-the-fuck-knows-what-to-call-it and then Cole’s rap. You may disagree with me, but who cares.

Lets get the facts straight:

  • Born Sinner is 100x better than Sideline Story
  • Album comes together
  • J. Cole doesn’t play any games as he raps about his life
  • Production has gotten remarkably better
  • More consistent lyrically
  • This was a true album, and not a commercial one

The one concern that comes with new artists and their LP’s is how will the debut fair, and will they succumb to the sophomore curse? Sideline Story was better than your average debut, and J. Cole survived sophomore curse with Born Sinner. Born Sinner showcases the evolution of Cole’s production ability, as well as, his growth and maturity as an artist. He continuously raps about his life, sharing it with everyone. That’s how the album comes together as it’s real, and genuine.

He starts us off with Villuminati, a testament to Born Sinner being darker, angrier, and more of a serious album than Sideline Story. This is the stage setter for the rest of the album. Other standouts include: Power Trip (like come on, try to not get that stuck in your head), Runaway, Forbidden Fruit, Ain’t That Some Shit (Interlude), Let Nas Down, & Born Sinner.

In Forbidden Fruit, Kendrick Lamar provides the quiet and calm chorus, as Cole addresses his decision to move up his release date to go head-to-head with Yeezus.

I’mma drop the album the same day as Kanye/Just to show the boys the man now like Wanyá

I applaud him for moving up the release date. Guy has mad confidence. +1 for respect.

There are some weak points about Born Sinner, though: Land Of The Snakes, a remake of Outkast and Slick Ricks Da Art of Story Telling. Just don’t touch something that good. It’s that obvious. Another weak point is that some people may complain about how a lot of the songs sound similar. I’m not going to argue that one because Cole produced the whole thing himself, so of course a lot of it will sound similar, but I think he strung together something he’ll look back and be proud of.

The biggest thing for me, as this won’t be album of the year, but Born Sinner proves that J. Cole got significantly better *with albums*, and hopefully he continues to.  This is a very good album, but it won’t be my album of the year. Definitely in my top 10 at the least.

*obviously his mixtapes are a different sotry*

Album Rating: 8/10

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J. Cole – Crooked Smile (ft. TLC)

j-cole-crooked-smile

I almost can’t believe I’m posting this song, but I mainly want to get a conversation going about what has happened to J. Cole. And have a reason to post a song that features TLC. Yeah, so J. Cole just released this single “Crooked Smile,” which is a cut off of his upcoming sophomore album Born Sinner, due out June 18th. To me, it sounds like something Columbia Records could have written for him. It’s one of those pick-me-up tracks that tries to tell ladies that they’re beautiful just the way they are, even if they have a “crooked smile.” But J. Cole can’t even keep the storyline consistent for three verses. The only consistency I see in this song is that TLC is on it, and it sort of mirrors their old hit song “Unpretty.”

What’s most upsetting to me is the promise that J. Cole once had. He was the most talented rapper coming out of North Carolina in as long as I can remember, and it seems that when he signed to Columbia, his talents were restrained and he was forced to tell these cliche stories on his songs. It sounds a little bit too much like Lupe Fiasco‘s battle with his label. Lupe used to be my favorite rapper, and now I have to force myself to listen to songs that he puts out.

Seems to be the same story these days with J. Cole. The music is overproduced, the lyrics are cheesy and insincere (“Oh, you a woman? I don’t know how you deal/ With all the pressure to look impressive and go out in heels/ I feel for you/ Killing yourself to find a man that’ll kill for you”), and as for me, I’m over this sheeeeeyit. Fingers crossed the rest of Born Sinner will be better, but I’m losing hope.

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J. Cole – Cole Summer

J. Cole - Cole Summer

For the first time in my short academic career, skipping my 9:05 class paid off (sorta-kinda) this morning when I noticed this little diddy skirting across Twitter. As he says in the first lines of the track, “Cole Summer” isn’t related to his upcoming sophomore-LP Born Sinner, but it is a smooth, Lauryn Hill sample that will definitely feel right at home for your day drinking this summer. Born Sinner on June 25th.

[h/t Potholes]

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J. Cole – Power Trip ft. Miguel [Music Video]

Power Trip - J. Cole ft Miguel [Music Video]

Trying to gain a little bit of momentum off the first official single from his second album, Born Sinner, J. Cole premiered the video for “Power Trip,” which is one of my favorite songs in a while. Directed by Nabil, we actually have a pretty solid video here that goes along with the song, and Miguel actually plays a big role along with his awesome hook. Born Sinner due out this summer. Kudos to MTV for the video.

She got me up all night/All I’m singing is love songs

J. Cole featuring Miguel

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J. Cole – Power Trip (ft. Miguel)

Power Trip J. Cole Miguel

J. Cole‘s new single with Miguel, “Power Trip,” was brought to my attention as soon as my alarm clock went off this morning. I had a text from Andy telling me that J. Cole’s new song is fire. Funny thing is, I was just thinking about J. Cole yesterday wondering when the hell he would put out some good new material. My boy from North Carolina used to consistently put out some of my favorite songs, but he’s seemingly been on a hiatus from that claim to fame. Today, though, my faith has returned. “Power Trip” is a reminder of the melodious jams that made me fall in love with J. Cole in the first place.

Power Trip is the first official single off J. Cole’s sophomore album, Born Sinner. All we’ve got is a radio rip for now.

EDIT: Added a Soundcloud player of the CDQ, dirty version of the track. Enjoy.

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J. Cole – Miss America

missamerica_tktsl

J. Cole celebrates the two year anniversary of the release of his Friday Night Lights mixtape with the release of the first single off of his sophomore album due out in January.

Few things:

  • Miss America doesn’t disappoint.
  • Great start to “Born Sinner”
  • Let the anticipation begin.

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Kendrick Lamar – The Jig Is Up (Dump’n) (Prod. J. Cole)

Kendrick Lamar - The Jig Is Up [Artwork]

Hmmm don’t mind if I do… The day that it’s announced that Kendrick sold 242,000 albums in his first week (!), he drops this little diddy produced by J. Cole. I doubt this will find a home on a project, but I do hope that it means we’re going to hear something from Young Simba soon.

MP3: “The Jig Is Up (Dump’n)” – Kendrick Lamar

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J. Cole – I’m A Fool

jcole2

J. Cole takes to Twitter and gives a random fan of his the opportunity to release his latest track, I’m A Fool.

Dear random fan, you’re pretty fucking lucky.

Lyrics and production by J. Cole

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DJ Khaled – They Ready (ft. J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, BIG K.R.I.T.)

They Ready DJ Khaled

I’m not going to lie…I haven’t been excited to listen to a DJ Khaled song since my early years in college. Tonight, though, I saw this listed on 2DB and as soon as I caught the features on the track, I knew it was a must listen. Talk about three of the best rappers to come out of the woodwork in the past couple of years! Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and BIG K.R.I.T. all on one track together. I knew this had to be good. Fuck Khaled, the young bucks are what make this track so good.

MP3: “They Ready” (ft. J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, BIG K.R.I.T.) – DJ Khaled

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J. Cole – The Cure

J. Cole - The Cure

You know, I bought J. Cole’s album back in the fall and obviously I was fairly disappointed. He didn’t really do much to make up for that fact afterwards either, basically disappearing from mid-April until a couple days ago when he pulled a very Drake-esque move on Twitter, just tweeting, “The Cure.” Obviously this meant he was going to drop a song, and I’m very pleased with it. “The Cure” was produced by Cole, also, using a pretty nice sample from “Lift Off” off of Watch The Throne. Check out the lyrics from Rap Genius, too, and hopefully this means we’ll be hearing some more from Jermaine in the coming weeks.

MP3: J. Cole – The Cure

J. Cole The Cure Lyrics

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King Mez – My Everlasting Zeal [Album Review]

King Mez My Everlasting Zeal

King Mez, of Raleigh, NC, has just released his debut studio album. He’s been releasing singles and mixtapes for years now, but with this release, he’s really making a name for himself as an elite rapper in today’s game. The album features fourteen tracks, each of which is a classic example of easy-listening hip-hop. There’s nothing too heavy, and there’s really nothing poppy. It’s hip-hop in its purest form today, and it’s a joy to listen to.

Right from the get-go (particularly in “Intro”), King Mez allows himself to potentially be mistaken for young phenomenon in the hip-hop game, Kendrick Lamar. He’s got the similar flow, connecting words so you don’t know where some end and others start, and it is fast. The beats on the entire album are graceful; there’s a large presence of piano playing in the beats, which are produced by J. Cole, Commissioner Gordon, Omen, 11 20, Soundtrakk, Prolyfic, Face of 2 to the 3, and King Mez himself.

The shortcomings are few and far between, but perhaps the most obvious one being that Mez doesn’t have much tonal variation throughout the album, which often causes his voice to sound secondary to the beautiful background music on the tracks. Take a song like “About Me,” which has jazzy and soulful piano playing on the base track, which makes Mez’s storyline hard to pick out.

That said, it’s not always the case. On “Timely Fashion,” Mez varies his vocal patterns and intonations enough to make himself and his writing stand out. When he packs syllables into certain segments, he likens himself to Atlanta rapper Andre 3000. In the same song, he’ll play around with his pitches and flow and start sounding like Michigan native Big Sean.

There are other sorts of varieties on the album, too. On “Highness,” King Mez invites Novakane onto the track and the result is a spoken-word vibe with orchestral singing in the backdrop. And in a track like “Queen,” it’s hard not to listen to the heartbreaking story that King Mez tells. Baby me and you can make it to the stars/ Long as you think you can make it with your scars/ And I know it gets hard/ Just make sure you remember who you are.

Overall, I’m incredibly impressed by My Everlasting Zeal. The combination of incredible beats, clever rhymes and stories embedded in verses makes for what could be one of the best full-album hip-hop releases in 2012. It’s a bold statement, but I’m confident, after hearing this album, that King Mez is making his way to the top of the underground (or independent) hip-hop game.

Favorite Tracks:

“Tonight” (ft. Drey Skonie) – King Mez

“Highness” (ft. Novakane) – King Mez

“Queen” – King Mez

 

Album Rating: 9/10

 

Stream Full Album

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Voli – Sound of Love (ft. J. Cole)

sound-of-love

“Sound of Love” represents the third single off of Voli’s upcoming full length album titled The Wall, scheduled to be released later this summer. Teaming up with one of my personal favorites J.Cole, the two Fayetteville natives manage to co-produce this gem of a track with a strong rock influence. Before you freak out, the “rock influenced” sound genuinely works and exemplifies Dreamville’s musical versatility to a T.

Stream “Sound of Love” below and if you like what you hear, you may download it free of charge. Cheers to free music!

 

 

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