REVIEW: J. Cole – “Cole World: The Sideline Story”

J. Cole / Cole World: The Sideline Story / Roc Nation

“They say I’m taking long, I tell em patience is a virtue / I’m going all out and bitch I never had a curfew”. One would think such arrogance shouldn’t come from a North Carolina rapper who has yet to see his debut hit store shelves, but for J. Cole it works. The 26-year-old has finally compiled his debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story, and just like the poise he emits, it grooves like a veteran piece. Why you might ask? J. Cole isn’t a lyricist fixed on making a glitzy beat pop just so radio stations shudder. Instead, he’s candid, and at times, isn’t swayed by his surroundings (“Cole World”) and isn’t afraid to show he’s insecure by even going to the lengths of writing a verse from the perspective of a female confronted by the thought of getting an abortion (“Lost Ones”).

Aside from that artful taste, there’s also a longing for genuine production. More than three-quarters of the full-length features J. Cole at the helm, letting Brazilian rhythms act as the essence to impassioned rants (“God’s Gift”) and recreating 90s’ slow jams that accent both Drake and Missy Elliot (“In The Morning”, “Nobody’s Perfect”) and turn whims like “A flower, you are powerful, you do something to me” into sensual adolescent poetry. But there is something The Sideline Story doesn’t fulfill: it’s deprived of that raw impudence that composed Cole’s independent mixes and makes older album cuts – like “Lights Please” – chime with his attitude. In these instances, the rapper makes no mistake at leaving an impression, one that burns with simplicity but becomes your new-found addiction due to the fury being hurled at you while you dive into his driven, stripped-down conscious. It’s a time-consuming trip, but J. Cole makes sure you’re continually trapped in his emotional aura.

Download: “In The Morning”, “Rise And Shine”, “God’s Gift”


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