My first and *second reactions to his “Born Sinner” follow up. I don’t like J. Cole’s music, and yes, I know he’s talented. If you want to react, @MiaDaDeva. Alright, then…
Intro – Oh okay, J. Cole-Sampha in the house. He’s acknowledging how far he’s come, which is a nice change from the “Woe is Me, I am J. Cole” narrative we’ve seen on mixtape after album after mixtape after album.
January 28th – Yes to the bass. I really do appreciate Cole as a producer, albeit I think his one man only routine stretches his talents too thin. This is one of those tracks where he actually manages to draw you in as narrator, spitting on all things socio-political.
Wet Dreamz – As he does so well, J. Cole is telling us story about his old hoes and how when he was younger he would have nocturnal emissions! He also talks about his virginity, because we’ve never heard about it before. I can see how this could bring back solid memories of first time masturbation for a lot Cole’s target audience, but this song is so unnecessary.
*I think one of the reasons why J. Cole’s immature subject matter blows me is because he’s 29. At what point does relatable become lazy? Can he give me something to aspire to thru his music? Do we really need to know yet again, that he was awkward in his teen years like everyone else? Apparently.
Adolescence – Another beat that sounds like ’96 Dilla and 97’ RZA had an illegimate baby. Another track about puberty and lust. I’m still unmoved. Although J. Cole retro’d the nostalgic old school feel of 90’s legends like Nas, and Goodie Mob, the theme itself in today’s rap culture is reoccurring and almost stale. With competition from newer artists like The Underachievers, Troy Ave and Joey Badass (as trash as some of them may be), how long will Cole World stay hot with the same ingredients?”
*Still unmoved, but if you just give him a feature on this track, either someone to make him look better (Ross) or someone to match his style (Isaiah Rashad/Chance) and this song might be something different.
A Tale of 2 Cities – every J Cole song should start (and sound) like this. Southern, bass, perhaps KRIT influenced? Maybe Drake/ASAP pressure? Either way, this is the sound that an artist who’ 7 years in his career is supposed to entertain via storytelling. *Songs like this also piss me off because it’s clear that J. Cole has the ability to keep up and even dominate when he elevates his lyrics above situationships and millennial woes.
LIKE SERIOUSLY WHY THE FUCK DOESN’T EVERY J. COLE SAMPLE SOUND THIS SMOOTH?
*This is the track I get excited about when I talk about this album. Someone like ASAP Ferg or Danny Brownz should start trying to get Cole to do this for their next project.
Fire Squad – And then we are once again immediately greeted with Faux-Premo Cole with the lazy Drake flow. It’s grittier and definitely nowhere as cheesy as the opening tracks but he’s still singing. Second half of the song goes the fuck in tho. Get into this industry bullshit, Jermaine! Is J. Cole hopping in the Wale lane with the spoken word or is this a poem I skipped in class?
*Is it me or are these songs really long?
St. Tropez– Pretty dope, but the beat is still too retro. Doesn’t look like we’ll be going back to “A Tale Between Two Cities”, but there’s enough electronic drums to make it comfortably ambivalent. The chorus is bleh. He is still SINGING.
*I like the girl singing on this song more than I like the song. He’s still singing.
G.O.M.D- I was wrong about the beats! I actually enjoy this one more because this is the J. Cole I remember from college, back when the struggle raps where applicable. As I’ve already said I appreciate it when he spazzes but dammit the singing!
*I’m not a thug and I started to skip this section because if I wanted to hear niggas sing about love I’d listen to The Weekend. Also, how long is this fucking song?! But whatever, beats still fire.
No Role Modelz – J. Cole talks about problems like he’s never had a good day, but shout out to him for acknowledging that B List celebrity shit, although I need him to realize it’s his fault and not the public’s for “not getting it.” Also, Project Pat nod.
*I just realized that J. Cole is crooning “Don’t Save Her” on some Bill Withers shit. He’s better than this.
Hello – J. Cole still sounds like he was screaming at a roots rock reggae concert the night before. He’s being nostalgic, it’s heartfelt, but OMG I don’t care J. Cole. It’s the same problem with Drake, the ONLY difference being that Drake is at least willing to break up the emo-rap with a bit of ratchetry here and there.
*I’m realizing that the songs aren’t particularly long, but I do feel like J. Cole runs out of things to say after the 3 min mark, and even tho this is one 3:39, I can’t even tell you what he’s talking about.
Apparently– This beat is dope, but I wish he had given it to someone like a Jarren Betton or Chance the Rapper instead. Still it’s kind of hard to clown someone who’s talking about their mom and positive thinking so moving on. Again, he turns up the second half of the song. Chorus is still all singy but it’s catchy at the least.
*I’m listening with friends and (@karyewest) who says, “J. Cole hasn’t sounded happy on this album at least once” and (@JustChillBruh) “If the [rap] game were The Office, J. Cole would be the IT guy.” #iCant.
Love Yourz– Hmmm, is this how we’re ending this? Really? Typical.
*Shakespeare ended shows on a higher note, and again, it’s a nice message…but I just want to give dude a hug. He’s gone thru more shit on this album than I have all year and I actually am broke with student loan debt.
Note to Self – 14:35? Fuck all of the entirety of this. You can read all 1,150 words in this article in less time than this fucking song. Exclude the repetitive content (or don’t) and you can read the lyrics from every song on this album in less time than this outro.
*I caved and skimmed, and I just wish J. Cole had as much fun on the album as he did the last 4 minutes of this outro.
Conclusion: I liked it. I haven’t liked a J. Cole project since Friday Night Lights, but I was excited to listen to this album for a second time. Some of the songs will make my iTunes, and I think even non-fans that aren’t me would have a similar reaction. That said, everything J. Cole says sounds like the timeline of nigga who tweets #RiseandGrind and #nodaysoff every day despite peaking in middle management and working out of cubicle. Besides, even with all this effort and hard-earned improvement, J. Cole still does not deserve a 15-minute long piano accompanied outro.