So the other day, I was kicking it at my boy Cory’s crib over in Bushwick aka Gentrification’s second home. We started on the rooftop eating Popeyes chicken and biscuits and drinking Henny out of dollar store cups. Basically just a regular Tuesday. As the wind kicked up, we made our way inside, chicken in tow. As most conversations between young ppl like myself, Cory and his roommate and fellow Philly native, Chris, the conversation shifted to music. I don’t know what it is, but people have a Rolodex of receipts with shit I’ve said about artists and Chris and my homegirl Yve scrolled to the J section. They pulled up my comments on a one, J. Cole and accused me of hating him and wondered why. I don’t hate Jermaine. To the contrary, I love him, his music and what he stands for. I just want him to stop rapping for about 2 years.
My point rarely gets across because like Kanye, I just blurt shit out if I haven’t organized my thoughts beforehand. Even in my writing, rarely do I do an outline. I just get smacked and start flowing. I should have really been a rapper, but whatever. So let me preface this with saying that I’ve been a Cole fan since The Come Up. I remember watching the Grown Simba video in my dorm in 07-08 and being like wow who the fuck is this guy? His music is fire. I then wrote about him on my blog at the time (Here). He eventually came to Stony Brook to perform with Day 26 headlining (iron knee) but when Day 26 backed out, many concertgoers wanted to as well. I had to convince about 30 people to still go, proclaiming Cole as the chosen one and the next up. People obliged, attended, and enjoyed themselves. I did my part in the crusade of restoring the feeling as Troy Average would say.
Fast forward to Sideline Story. Man was I excited to hear this album. Friday Night Lights basically solidified Cole as the best rapper at the time. The second coming of *insert amazing rapper here* was finally upon us. But I, like many others was let down by this 19 track long snoozefest. Recycled songs, daunting beats and the same subject matter I had heard for the previous three projects, I was let down. Forget Nas, Cole had let me down. I still had hope, so naturally when Born Sinner dropped, I was there ready for him to redeem himself. But I was again met with similar but not as extreme, disappointment. While Born Sinner was ok, the lazy sample loops, the extremely dark tone and once again, similar subject matter of Jay not wanting to sign him had left a dull taste in my mouth and I was ready to write Cole off as not ready to make a cohesive project.
But I started to pay attention to J. Cole in a different way. It was common knowledge that J. Cole was the sole producer on his projects. I started to research the songs he was sampling. I had become jaded and disenchanted by hip hop and was on a non rap kick. And the best place to look for new old music in my opinion is samples. And Cole had a ton of them to look through. This is when I noticed how good of an ear he had for music. And not only how keen his ear was but how his ability to flip a sample into a new sound, unique to him. Unique to hip hop.
I started to think “What if Cole stopped rapping for like two years and just straight up produced?” Two years of J. Cole in a hyperbolic time chamber of production, locked in, churning out beat after beat. Although Hiiipower is not my favorite Kendrick song, he came alive over the flighty J Cole beat and spit some ferociously heavy bars. As everyone clamors around the idea of a Kendrick/Cole collaboration mixtape, I’m caught on the idea of Cole just flat out not rapping any more and really honing his craft as a producer.
I think the Fayette-nam native is on to something. He’s at the precipice. He’s knocking on the door. He’s turning the key in the lock. But he just can’t seem to fully get in. What I mean is that … (Brace yourself) Cole can be an artist as elite as Kanye West. Currently, if we think about who the great rapper producers are, Cole is not coming to many ppl’s minds. Even Kanye is starting to be looked at with the side eye as his lyrical prowess takes a backseat to his sonic improvements over time. Madlib and 88 Keys are extraordinary producers but you’re not really looking to them for the bars. Then we have Travis Scott, who is pretty much just diet Yeezus, with his heavy synth laden beats and so-so bars. Jermaine undoubtedly has the bars and his ear for music and beat making is more than evident. If he does 5 beats a day for three summers, there’s literally no denying that he will deserve to do these numbers. He can be the first to offer both talents at A1 levels.
And think about it. Two years isn’t a long time. Sideline Story came out September 27th, 2011, Born Sinner on June 18th, 2013, and 2014 Forest Hills Drive about 18 months after on December 9th, 2014. 2014 FHD is where he showed the most growth as not only a producer, but as an artist who could put together a cohesive project. Imagine if he really dropped off the face of the earth and just played with the sounds for for 730 days. That’s basically along the lines of when Goku got to Namek to fight Frieza. Essentially, he was cool before and we liked him, but now he’s on a whole new level!
So hip hop fans, stop being selfish. I love Jermaine Lamarr Cole as much the next person (not really because some of you are nuts) but this is for him. This is only going to make him complete. You fools! This isn’t even his final form!