anticipate. listen to a mixtape. another leaked single. rumors. label drama. another mixtape. a few more b-sides released on sundays every few weeks. more waiting…and so it went for the past year and change. fans were patient. haters, well they did what they do best. all the while j cole stayed in the pocket. if the pressure was cracking him we couldn’t tell.
today sees the long-awaited debut release of north carolina’s savior of the hiphop scene. the rapper at the center of plenty of barbershop debates. some say all hype, others claim he’s “the next one”. his name is j cole. and those like me, who fought the urge of the album leak a week early, are pleasantly surprised. cole world- the sideline story is a tightly packaged, personal affair that surges from beginning to end and doesn’t let up for a second.
production was handled mostly by j cole, a blessing since his influences are clearly rooted in the early 90’s golden days of hiphop. i catch glimpses of nas and blackmoon’s buckshot both in cole’s beat craft and his delivery. that’s not to say the album is a complete throwback. tracks like “mr. nice watch” and “in the morning” scream of things to come from both cole and the hiphop world in general; they sound fresh and clean. although “in the morning” has been floating around the internet for a minute it’s still a piece of laid back perfection made better by drakes drunk-dialish confessionals, over a sexy, jazzy beat that’s all pianos and sparse rhythms.
“lost ones” is a semi-contrived tale of life and/or death, told from the perspective of a young man and woman facing an unplanned pregnacy. “never told” and “breakdown” deal with cheating and absentee dads, both stories we’ve all heard a million times before. clunky tracks aside, the album is fantastic. cole has a way of selling what he spits. it’s hard not to by in. the brilliant “nobody’s perfect” was only made more impressive by the missy elliott feature. yes, i said missy elliott. it’s gold from the second the track starts.
worth the wait. only a taste of what’s to come. possibly a few tracks too long. say what you will. there hasn’t been a better conceived and delivered hiphop debut in quite some time. do your homework and check out cole’s mixtapes the warm up and friday night lights before digesting the sideline story. it’s fun to watch a young mc come into his own, with style and patience to match. he could have let the delays derail his focus. instead, he put out a killer record. it’s a cold world, but for jermaine cole things are just heating up.
pay attention to the jayz vocal sample at the start of this one…