J Cole, aside from Kendrick Lamar, has asserted himself as one of the best rappers of his generation. His storytelling, flow, lyricism and independence are second to none. On this living legends birthday, let's look at ten J Cole songs you need to check out.
Naming this track after his own birthday as a reference and nod to the track December 4th off Jay Z's iconic The Black Album, opening 2014 Forest Hills Drive with a statement. By just naming this track what he named it, he immediately compared himself not only to a legend of the genre, a legend who signed him to Roc-A-Fella Records in 2011. And, as we all know, he didn't disappoint.
The Warm Up is a mixtape that came out prior to Cole's first major studio release, Cole World: The Sideline Story, and it's honestly better than that album. If you've never listened to this mixtape, I put the link right there, so now you're out of excuses. Welcome is my personal favorite track off The Warm Up, but in general, go listen to the whole thing. Don't call yourself a Frank Ocean fan if you haven't heard Nostalgia Ultra, and don't call yourself a Cole fan if you haven't heard this.
'Back to the Topic (Freestyle)'
The whole point of a freestyle is to show off. Show off your wordplay, your flow, whatever you've got. And Cole really, really didn't disappoint with this song. Friday Night Lights is another classic Cole mixtape, which was taken off Spotify a few years back due to copyright concerns. Jermaine has however stated in the past he intends to get the mixtape back on major streamers, but until then, it's available for free on Soundcloud, Youtube, wherever you go for mixtapes.
Since they're the best rappers of their generation, people have for years been dreaming of and demanding a collaboration album between these two geniuses. Myself included, I think I'd cry real tears if this ever actually happened.
But, in 2015, we got a TASTY preview of what could be when Kendrick and Cole swapped beats for two tracks both titled Black Friday. Kendrick took J Cole's A Tale of 2 Citiez, while Cole hopped on Kendrick's Alright.
While Revenge of the Dreamers II didn't garner as much hype as the third installment of the Dreamville collaboration projects, Cole came on the first track of this album with a quick, great song, Folgers Crystals. No one can open an album like this guy.
A song written after the death of Eric Garner, Cole's Be Free is a simplistic track. It's just a piano track. There are no backup singers, no beat, no distractions. Just listen to the words. They're important.
'Is She Gon Pop'
Born Sinner is one of my favorite albums ever. I was listening to this on the school bus in 7th grade, which isn't a flex because I was early to the Cole hype. Ok, whatever, I am bragging, but look, this song is great. It's insightful, the beat is soft and pretty. You can almost fall asleep to this track. It's the sort of song that makes you think about the person you love and smile softly a bit, you know?
J. Cole - Can't Get Enough ft. Trey Songz
Long before Cole had dreads and everyone knew how short Trey Songz is, they dropped this collaboration track of Cole's first project under Jay Z's Roc Nation. The other day I put this song on and I was just dancing in my bathroom like a maniac. No one can really quite hit a beat like Cole, and he let the world know with this track.
The reaction and criticism 4 Your Eyez Only received was completely unjustified. It was a fantastic album. Ok, I don't care if you can't put Foldin Clothes on in front of your friends without getting made fun of. I really don't. I can't either, but we both know this is a good album. Get off the hype train of people who hate when a rapper doesn't make radio hits and just appreciate some great music.
I had to end the list with this, because this is the song that hooked me to his music. This isn't his best song. It is one of his most popular. Miguel does what he does, deliver amazing vocals. Cole does what he does, deliver amazing lyrics. Got me up all night, all I'm singing is love songs, got me up all night, constant drinking and love songs. It's a love song, it's a beautiful song, but compared to the rest of his discography, is it really that special? Not particularly, but it is to me. Happy Birthday, King Cole. Thanks for bringing me so much joy the last ten years.
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