Monday, May 03, 2010

New Artist Spotlight - J. Cole

To be fair, I'd consider this post a little out of date because J. Cole is becoming a fairly household name, so calling him a New Artist is a bit of a misnomer. The only reason I feel comfortable still categorizing him as that is because all of his work has been centered around Mixtapes, like his newest Mixtape The Warm Up.

First a little background, J. Cole reps Fayetteville, NC to the fullest and is most well known for being the first artists signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label. Obviously, it helps having Jay-Z make an investment in you, but even artists like Drake have openly voiced their opinion about Cole as being an up and coming rapper. Recently Drake spoke about J. Cole in Complex magazine saying:
Question: You feel like you're at the finish line?
Drake: I'm at the starting line. Those guys are at home, putting on their tracksuits, getting ready to make their attack. When J. Cole gets it super-right, I think he's gonna have a place as a Nas-type character who really stands for hip-hop, but still makes ill records that everybody fucks with.
Question:If J. Cole is Nas, then who are you?Drake: [Laughs.] I'm the young big homie!
Question:Of all your contemporaries, it seems like you want to be famous the most.Drake: That's gonna change. When Cole's sound is the new sound that everybody wants to hear, he's gonna be like, "I wanna be as big as possible with this shit." I didn't jeopardize anything to be in the position I'm in. You're listening to the shit that I believe in, not some shit I did because I needed to get here. People just happen to embrace my shit. That's very rare—but I also think the younger generation appreciates that brand of music, so I think it's possible for one of these guys to emerge and do exactly what I'm doing. - Source

Interesting view and while J. Cole brushed off the Nas comparisons as being a little bit early, I can see where Drake was going with the comparison. He's got just as much lyrical swag as Drake on his tracks (see below quoteables on Who Dat), but he fits more of the straight ahead, traditional lyricist style Hip Hop artist. Both he (to a lesser extent) and Nas have the ability to rhyme their way into a story with an effortless, laid back flow proving bar after bar that the lines they're spittin' aren't what they are thinkin' at the moment because they're three bars ahead mentally. First piece of evidence, his new single Who Dat, where Cole goes in on a very Roc sounding, slightly live band aided, absolutely bangin' Hip Hop beat. Interesting use of horns on the hook, but this beat holds its weight with head nodding beat supplementing well timed percussive echoes throughout the track. Real different sound to it and J. Cole shines all over it with lines like:

My life accelerated, but had to wait my turn,
But then I redecorated, that means my tables turn,
Live life, might as well,
Only way to learn, is try and fail
Clientele the only way to earn. 

The mind state of a winner,
When you thinkin bout summertime,
I’m thinkin bout the winter,
When you thinkin bout breakfast,
I’m heatin up my dinner,
I was plottin' this moment back when 'yall was ridin spinners.

Heatin up like May Weather dog,
I’m on that Floyyd sh*t,
Boy stick, to ya day job,
Said you was hot but they lied,
Is that ya girl? Well I just g’d her (jeter), no A rod.
Check it...

J Cole - Who Dat Hott New Single!!!

Movin' on to my favorite track of his, Grown Simba, where Cole gives off somewhat of a Kanye vibe on the track with the soulful, take 'em to church repetitive sample on the beat. On the track, Cole prophesizes his ascension to the top of the game from his current creepin' on a come up status. In Hip Hop you almost have to talk it before you live it or people won't follow, so a track like this will only serve to increase his following with lines like, "Hold up now don’t get it twisted, I aint hating do your thing, I was like a young Simba couldn’t wait to be the king". There's no short of talent, wit or ab libs on all his tracks and this is the best example of that. Consider this track below as the foundation for why I think he's going to become a significant name in Hip Hop...check it..

J Cole - Grown Simba Favorite Cole Track!!!

You may have not realized it, but Cole was on Jay-Z's most recent album, Blueprint 3. Between the upbeat clap of the Kanye beat and Jay-Z's verses, you may not have noticed who that extra verse came from. Yea that was the kid from the 'Ville, again taking a sec to look around and notice how far he's come from relative obscurity, starting off his verse by saying:

And could I be a star,
This fame and this game have to change who you are,
Could I be the same one who came from a far away life,
Just to make it in this broadway lights,
Now shining in the broad day light, go figure...
Always cool to see a talented artist be able to live in the moment and share that "I'm not a nobody anymore" feeling with you on a track. Check it...

Jay-Z feat J Cole - A Star is Born Blueprint 3!!

My final (newer) example of why you should listen to J. Cole and stop napping on him comes from a track that was slated to be on DJ Khaled's recent album Victory, but was a late scratch. This one is driven by a background guitar riff that gives an upbeat, in your face vibe that meshes with his no holds barred verses. He constantly gives shouts out to his new album Cold World throughout the verses, but the incorporation of both guitar and piano make this every bit as much music, daring you to categorize it more as instrument driven Hip Hop rather than Rap. Another interesting example of how stylistically he stands out with the way he goes about making his music from the instrumentals to the verses. Give it a listen and keep your head on a swivel for more Cole tracks to drop...

J Cole - We On Hot!!!!

Mark my words, he'll probably one day have as much name power as may just take more time...
J. Cole From SxSW to S.O.B.’s


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