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J. Cole is my favourite rapper.
A Kid Named Cudi & So Far Gone aside, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a mixtape as much as I did The Warm Up. I think it’s difficult for even the deepest of haters to deny that the dude is talented. Since Hov’ put him on he’s gone from strength to strength; killing features with some of the best to ever do it and moving an impressive first week figure of 214,000 units for his debut album. Those that have seen him perform can vouch that he’s a pretty dope performer too.
Probably the thing that I like most about him is his approach to releasing music. He’s publicly admitted that he made a conscious decision to abscond from the hip-hop and social media scene for large parts of this year. He often speaks about trying to ensure that there is value in all of his work and I think it’s an admirable philosophy. When he does pop up with some new music, you KNOW that shit will be fire. It’s almost like an event.
That’s exactly what it was when he dropped “The Cure” on July 27. That shit right there still holds the belt for the dopest freestyle of 2012 for me. I’m going to be breaking that song down in a bit more detail later on but in-between those 60+ bars of pure piff was a line that really got me thinking.
“How many Kanye beats do a nigga gotta murder,
to prove that my minds further, hater nigga converter”
People often talk about legendary rapper-producer duo’s in hip-hop. Jay/Just Blaze, Timbaland/Missy.
Deuce/Ye. Snoop/Dre. It’s safe to say that J. Cole and Kanye West aren’t in that bracket by any stretch of the imagination but there is something about a ‘Ye beat that brings out the very best in J. Cole. “The Cure” was a sure-fire example of this. There are a whole lot more…
I mentioned earlier how I seriously love The Warm Up. There are three Kanye beats on there with the first being “Just to Get By”. If you’ve never heard the Cole version before, you won’t be blown away. Likewise, you won’t be blown away by “Knock Knock” either. “Last Call” is amazing though. Many get perturbed by the duration of the track but honestly it’s dope.
The post-Warm Up era is when things begin to get real interesting though.
“Workout” isn’t strictly classified as a Kanye West beat. It features a pretty heavy Kanye sample so I gave it a squeeze here. A platinum certificate later and a video racking up 40,000,000-odd views and you can safely say that this shit served it’s purpose. “Villematic” is in the same space too. “Devil in a New Dress” is actually produced by B!nk but again, it’s on MBDTF so it gets included here. On top of that, Cole shredded it. It definitely serves as one of my favourite Cole freestyles and it’s a pretty notable Friday Night highlight.
In between Friday Night Lights and the album came a string of ‘Ye beats for Cole to devour. Young Simba came off the bench to lay a quick verse for Beyoncé as Andre 3000 missed out on appearing amongst SEVERAL fine women in her video for that ‘Ye produced “Party”. In the run-up to Sideline Story, Cole took his verse from an old “Ignorant Shit” freestyle and put it over Common’s “Be” for an offering from his Any Given Sunday 1 EP.
Any Given Sunday 2 sprang “Knock on Wood” though. Let me tell you right here this is in my Top 5 J. Cole songs ever. It’s not even a song. Dude was probably in the lab one day and decided to vent. He got hold of this beat (Common – “Go” for those wandering) and just let go. No hook. Two minutes of straight piff.
Don’t get me started on “Looking for Trouble” too by the way. I’ve been to see J. Cole live three times now. The most recent of those saw him open his set with this verse and Lord God I don’t think a single show I’ve ever been to has started better. It’s rare that someone shines so much on a song with so many dope rappers and so many dope verses. Cole hopped on this G.O.O.D. Friday offering which already featured Cyhi, ‘Ye himself, Pusha T and arguably one of Big Sean’s best feature verses ever and just paid no respect to anyone. None at all. Sean probably laid that verse down thinking he had it in the bag. Infact he probably left the booth like this. Heard the official version a week later and went.
Flows like that made me happy to see NEW MUSIC: J. COLE – THE CURE on my twitter feed all throughout July 27. I don’t recall anyone flowing over “Lift Off” before this and I’m pretty sure no one will want to go near it after. He killed this and he lowkey shat on 80% of the game in the process.
New music is on the way from Jermaine. Whether this comes in the form of an album or a mixtape is yet to be seen but either way I know I am looking out for a certain production credit in particular. If you’re not sold on dude, you need to be downloading the back catalogue. Don’t be sleeping on the piff these two have served up for us in the past few years. I haven’t even mentioned the three ‘Ye freestyles on The Come Up. Be sure to check those too, that “Carmen” line in “Come Up” itself was ice cold.
Whilst I’m here I want to say thank you to everyone who checked Don’t Sleep Vol. 1 last week. Feel free to hit me up at @Jordie_Mac for any suggestions or other opinions. In the meantime though, feast on the above. I have a feeling Cole is gonna take advantage of the lack of releases this 4th quarter and own the winter.
Don’t Sleep on the Remix coming sooner than you think.