J. Cole is a rapper and producer from North Carolina. He released his first mix-tape in 2007. In the mist of recording his second mix-tape he was signed by Jay-Z. J. Cole had become the first artist to be signed to Roc Nation (Jay-Z’s new label). In 2009 he released his second mix-tape (The Warm Up). Since then people have been gravitating towards this rising star. He released a third mix-tape in 2010. He had a hit record and later a video for his record “In The Morning” which featured another young star named Drake. Although J. Cole had never announced a release date for his project, his mix-tapes had his fans anxious to see what his first album would sound like. J. Cole’s debut album (“Cole World”) was set to drop September 27, 2011.
Sadly Dreamville Merch album was leaked and I was able to get my hands on it a bit early. I’ve heard the album several times now. Once again I have tried my best to think about this from both a fan’s and an artist’s perspective. First let’s talk about the album’s production. J. Cole produced most of the beats on this album. I for one think that’s amazing! It excites me as a fan and as an artist.
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I think it’s great that he can bring his ideas to life with beats that he himself created. It probably makes things a lot easier for him. I know one of my struggles as an artist is trying to match some of the beats I’ve been sent from producers to the ideas that I have. However, if you make the beats yourself you can set things up exactly how you want them to be. Most of the beats are smooth melodies with hard drums and baselines. He definitely made sure that the beats and the lyrics mesh together on every track.
Lyrically J. Cole is different on this album. He is still very topical and “conscious” as the mainstream media would say. However, he has incorporated what commercial artists discuss as well. Not to say that he didn’t on his previous projects, but you can hear it a lot more now. Nonetheless, Dreamville Merch delivers strong lyrics from start to finish on this album. He also has a very catchy song called “Mr. Nice Watch” which features Jay-Z. He touches many topics; but whether serious, promiscuous, playful, or braggadocios Cole’s lyrics and delivery are strong. Still, I feel many people won’t gravitate to this album until much later on.
Cole switched his style so he can appeal to a bigger audience. However, he is not a completely different artist. He has incorporated what more people want to hear yet still he has stayed himself for the most part. It can be difficult to give the people what they want yet still keep your style intact. He balanced both sides very well in my opinion. I feel that is what makes this project so dope. It’s got something for everyone and it’s balanced very well. He is still hungry but he’s also flashy and speaking about the ladies.
He didn’t completely sell out like some other artists have done when they try to gain mainstream appeal. Cole balanced things very well and that’s hard for many artists including myself to do. Some like Nas have decided to not be balanced and just stick to the fan base they already have. However, Cole has the right mindset and is on the right path if he wants to show people the best of both worlds.
J. Cole’s debut album (“Cole World”) was good. It’s a great way for new fans to be introduced to his music and it definitely has what Cole’s fan base wants as well. Day one Cole fans should be able to appreciate the evolution of Cole. New fans should be able to enjoy both the conscious and cocky style that he has presented with this album. If this album is promoted right it can be huge for J. Cole. With several videos out now Cole should definitely be able to reach the crowd he wants and deserves to reach. I hope the smoothness of the album doesn’t push too many people away. I for one look forward to hearing more of J. Cole’s music very soon.