Finally got around to checking out J. Coles debut. "Cole World" was alright. It wasn't what I was hoping for from the Roc Nation signed artist. It's as if everything that made him so great was watered down for his debut album. The album was almost entirely mainstream sounding crap.
There were a small handful of good songs.
But not enough to keep me solidly satisfied. It went from my most anticipated album to my biggest disappointment.
I feel that I can hardly blame Cole himself. He dropped 3 excellent mixtapes before this album. One of which got him signed by multi-multi-multi-multi-super-millionaire Jay-Z.
Early J. Cole was great. His lyrics were always on point and emphasized. He always had soulful, new-school sampled beats produced by himself. Clever punchlines. Deep subject matter. A great unique flow. The list goes on.
For his debut album, his deep subject matter was almost no where to be found. There were 16 songs on the album. None of which were the initial badass single "Who Dat".
The original sequel had an excellent beat, and humorous bragadocious punchlines. It got me pumped for the album. However, several months after "Who Dat"s release, It was announced that it wouldn't be on the final album.
the reason being that it hadn't done as well as J. Cole had hoped. The single only peaked at 94 on the hot 100. Apparently J. Cole and Jay-Z wanted a higher charting single to further the upcoming star.
But why did they have to scrap 'Who Dat' completely? They could have just created a second single, and had that dominate airwaves. The first didn't have to get scrapped from the album.
I was quite excited for the second single. I thought, if the first one was that good and only peaked at 94, then the second one will be off the hook.
It finally debuted, and I was disappointed. The beat lacked compared to the previous single. The lyrics weren't nearly as witty. And worst of all, it employed J. Cole ripping off Kanye West's flow.
I'm not even a huge fan of Kanye West's flow. So when J. Cole copies it for himself, it's somewhat frustrating for me.
But I still had faith for the debut album. It had to get better. Unfortunately, It didn't.
Originally, it was stated by J. Cole that he would follow in the footsteps of Nas. His debut album would have no famous guest appearances besides his mentor, Jay-Z. This was somewhat disappointing news. Originally he wanted to get Nas featured on the album as well. He also mentioned Andre 3000 from Outkast as a possible feature.
Now it was to be Jay-Z only. That's okay though. As a debut, maybe that would be a good move.
However, about a month before the release, J. Cole announced the track listing. The track listing detailed the name of each song that would make the album, plus which songs featured who.
Shockingly, Jay-Z wasn't the only feature. Unfortunately, Nas and Andre 3000 weren't included as features either.
Instead the features included Missy Eliot, Drake, Trey Songz, and of course Jay-Z.
At this point I had to wonder how in control of the album J. Cole really was. He clearly stated his intentions early on. J. Cole wanted a deep album, with no famous guest appearances by Jay-Z. Plus, Who Dat was the single.
That morphed into an album that features a handful of mainstream celebrities, a lot of commercial tracks, and no 'who dat' on the album.
The Drake featured song was even a bigger insult. The title of this song was "In the Morning", and it was prominently featured on J. Coles last mixtape. That's right. It wasn't created for this album. It was just copied and pasted from the mixtape to the album. It wasn't re-performed either. It was literally copy and pasted over to the album.
Surprisingly, this wasn't the only song on the debut album that previously belonged to one of Cole's mixtapes. The other song that had been previously released years earlier was "Lights Please", the song that initially impressed Jay-Z into signing J. Cole.
Overall, the album wasn't on the level of Cole's previous mixtapes. It lacked the depth that made the majority of his mixtapes so good. It lacked the soul. It lacked the heart. It lacked the real Cole. Instead it included a dumbed down J. Cole that better fit Jay-Z's vision of what Cole could and should be.
I'd give the album a 7 out of 10. Not bad, but not great either. Maybe I'll warm up to the Side Line Story some day. But for right now, it does nothing but disappoint me.