A lot can be said about Young Simba aka Cole World aka Mr. Nyquil aka J. Cole. When you bring up his music you’re bound to get one of these responses:
I like to think of J. Cole as the”Leonardo DiCaprio” of hip hop in a way. Is he underrated or overrated? It may take him a while to get the award but people recognize his strong work ethic and determination to keep doing what he loves while staying true to himself. From The Come Up to Friday Night Lights to his current standing in hip hop, J. Cole has achieved massive success but his name is still not seen as a threatening contender among his peers. He recently made headlines when Billboard deemed him the “highest earning rapper of 2015” beating out Drake and Nicki Minaj, so what gives? It’s like this guy still has people on the fence about his music even though Forest Hills Drive did numbers on its release, was critically acclaimed by reviewers and was nominated for a Grammy.
I like J. Cole but I got beef with him. As much as he roars about being the best and coming to take the crown, he has yet to do it. He talks a nice game but I can count on my fingers how many times he’s really SNAPPED on a track. Looking for Trouble is one of his best verses to me. Despite having some heavy hitters on the track, Cole went all the way in and didn’t stop even after the beat ended. I need more of that!
Another problem with J. Cole is that he doesn’t have enough versatility when it comes to his sound. He’s a decent producer but I know what to expect from him every time. He needs to step out his comfort zone and have more people in the studio to give him some fire beats to spazz on. This is why people say he’s boring and makes bedtime music. His lyricism is between average and above average. He’s not saying anything mind-blowing but the things he raps about are more relatable to his audience than a lot of rappers. Some may even dare to say he’s “mediocre” and “safe”. I like to listen to him as background music or on a rainy day when I’m doing light work around the crib. To say his music sucks would be a reach because the man has a decent catalog once you get over his sometimes cringe-worthy punchlines( “I let you feel like you the shit, but boy you can’t out fart me”). That brings me to my next point: J. Cole and features. *heavy sigh* It can be a hit or miss, you really can’t predict how he’ll deliver a verse until you listen to it. He has worked with Jay-Z, Drake, Kendrick, Missy Elliot, Beyonce, Fabolous, Rihanna and more so his guest features have evolved over time.. The thing that makes J. Cole prone to writing corny shit is his style of wordplay. He can either surprise you with a gem or say something so predictable you get upset .
He held his own with Fab on “Louis Vuitton”
I’ll never forgive him for his “Planes” verse. Dick so big it’s like a foot is in your mouth
His verse for “Party” wasn’t that hot
When he works with artists signed to Dreamville, he always seems to demolish them.
A few other songs…
The evolution of Simba has been interesting to watch. His debut, Cole World: Sideline Story was decent but he dropped Friday Night Lights before that so I expected more. He got things right with Born Sinner and was confident with Forest Hills Drive. Now, we’re in 2016 waiting for another project. Rumors circulate about a collab album with Kendrick and I feel like I’m the only one who thinks it’s a bad idea. Kendrick can easily wash Cole if we’re being 100% and I’m not sure if Cole will be able to keep attention if he doesn’t go in on this joint project. However, I think I lean towards Cole when it comes to content out of the duo. I like how these two work together but will Lamar take all the shine?
So, what’s the verdict on the Crooked Smile rapper? When you look at the hip hop game and see who’s prominent at the moment, I feel like Cole has a place. He can hold his own among his peers and is definitely a threat. Forest Hill Drive sold almost 400,000 copies when it dropped with zero features and minimal promo and is now certified platinum. With all of his achievements, J. Cole still has work to do and 2016 is the year to prove it. Whether he does the anticipated album with Kendrick or releases a solo mixtape or album, his next move has to be his best one. I understand his story and come up but now I need him to flex a little bit. Show me why you’ve earned your spot and why these other niggas can’t compare. He has gotten better and better with each project so I’m interested to hear this lion’s roar.