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Album Review
J. Cole - Cole World: The Sideline Story Album Cover

J. Cole - Cole World: The Sideline Story

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9.0
J. Cole - Cole World: The Sideline Story
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Record Label: Roc Nation
History does repeat itself. In 2011, J. Cole is releasing his debut LP, Cole World: The Sideline Story as a 26-year-old signed to Jay-Z’s imprint label, Roc Nation. Coincidentally enough, Jay-Z released his debut LP, Reasonable Doubt, in 1996 as a 26 year old too. Even with this immense co-sign, it’s hard to feel that it was a gift without a curse. Sorry, that was way too easy.

Was J. Cole destined for the same super-stardom as his label head? Will he be just another ‘XXL freshman’ who releases a slew of mixtapes, builds a buzz, sells some albums and finds himself saturating the mixtape market again? After hearing Cole World, it’s currently a lean towards the former. Simply put, Cole’s released one of the best rap debuts, putting him far and above the rest of his “freshman” peers and classmates.

J. Cole is a personable, level-headed rapper with a college degree in mass communications who seems to have plotted out his every move since the release of his debut mixtape, The Come Up. He spaced out the releases of his mixtapes (including successors The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights), got on the right tours, put out the right tracks and released the right beats. Up until this point, he seemed to have a formulaic grasp of production, as his mixtapes were loaded with beats that seemed to be rehashes of his other beats.

And now, you’ll be hard pressed to argue against the display of his production on Cole World. Whether it’s the full marching band, horn-fueled arrangements on “Rise and Shine,” or the live piano and percussion on “Sideline Story,” the album is layered and arranged seamlessly and skillfully. It seems as though he’s taken a page from the book of Kanye West, and saved the best beats for this particular LP, releasing anything that fell short of that caliber free on any number of his mixtapes.

Cole’s diverse background entails that of the most ‘rags to riches’ rappers out there, but he maintains a certain level of poise and intelligence, delivered through his brainy lyrics and penchant of storytelling, not unlike the styles of 2pac and Nas. And I’m sure you’re wondering how an East Coast and West Coast legend get lumped together in the “Recommended if You Like” section of J. Cole’s musical profile. Being from Fayetteville, growing up on 2pac albums and going to college in the Northeast are just a handful of circumstances that led to this record. On “Lost Ones,” Cole brings you into the life of a couple amidst a quarrel about unplanned pregnancies and pending abortions. An unlikely topic for a debut LP, but not unlike the tales of infidelity on “Never Told” or even the anecdotes found within his album interludes.

And as far as guest spots go, J. Cole takes the road less traveled and didn’t over saturate it. Instead, he limited cameos to hook duties, a meager verse from Drake and a show-stealing verse from bossman Jay-Z on the Watch the Throne-esque “Mr. Nice Watch.” We’ll chalk that up as payback for what J. Cole did on Blueprint 3’s “A Star is Born.” Outside of that, you have a record-label prerequisite pop hook from Trey Songz on “Can’t Get Enough,” along with a rare appearance from Missy Elliott, who forgoes emceeing for melody on “Nobody’s Perfect.”

For all intents and purposes, this is one of the few true debut LPs that have come out in the last few years, as its sole focus remains not on who’s featured, but on J. Cole – both for his rapping and producing. The last guy who walked this path dropped The College Dropout in 2004, and has released 4 other critically-lauded albums since. And while J. Cole’s career is only beginning and has yet to be explored further than a few moderately successful tours and a debut LP, The Sideline Story is a perfect jump-off.

Recommended If You LikeReviews of mine that aren't for Blink-182, Comparing rappers to other rappers, blankets, rap debuts


Grade: 9.0/10
This review is a user submitted review from weworemasks. You can see all of weworemasks's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
09:58 PM on 10/08/11
#2
WhoSaidThat?
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This is my favorite album in the genre for '11 and will more than likely stay that way, assuming Life Is Good drops next year. Love it.
02:33 AM on 10/09/11
#3
HometownHero
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This is my favorite album in the genre for '11 and will more than likely stay that way, assuming Life Is Good drops next year. Love it.
My avy? Wale? The Roots?
02:48 AM on 10/09/11
#4
weworemasks
save the drama for wilmer valderama
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drake might be better
wale won't be better
roots won't drop this year


YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.
02:49 AM on 10/09/11
#5
weworemasks
save the drama for wilmer valderama
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and it pisses me off that literally no one will read this review besides the people who like me on AP. i've been blackballed because of blink182gate.

regardless, everyone remember that time j. cole outsold blink? people were mad.
12:03 PM on 10/09/11
#6
WhoSaidThat?
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My avy? Wale? The Roots?
One word, man: Radioactive.

Really, though. Refer to Roshan's first post. Though I do have some doubt Undun'll be pushed.
and it pisses me off that literally no one will read this review besides the people who like me on AP. i've been blackballed because of blink182gate.

regardless, everyone remember that time j. cole outsold blink? people were mad.
Joke? Because I doubt that. Your writing's great, but haven't your reviews always had like a handful of comments (with a few exceptions)?
02:52 PM on 10/09/11
#7
bandnamexmyname
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and it pisses me off that literally no one will read this review besides the people who like me on AP. i've been blackballed because of blink182gate.

regardless, everyone remember that time j. cole outsold blink? people were mad.
I doubt that really changes things; mob mentality + the need to get on the admins' good side was the major factor in that.
09:49 PM on 10/09/11
#8
slimfenix182
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I doubt that really changes things; mob mentality + the need to get on the admins' good side was the major factor in that.

or maybe alot of people like blink's album? I don't care if the admins like me or not as I blast Neighborhoods nearly everyday. if people come to AP.net hoping that Jason Tate or Drew Beringer quoted them, they need lives. not attacking you FYI. just don't get the mob mentality thing haha.
10:26 PM on 10/09/11
#9
weworemasks
save the drama for wilmer valderama
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One word, man: Radioactive.

Really, though. Refer to Roshan's first post. Though I do have some doubt Undun'll be pushed.

Joke? Because I doubt that. Your writing's great, but haven't your reviews always had like a handful of comments (with a few exceptions)?

haha, big time joke!

I doubt that really changes things; mob mentality + the need to get on the admins' good side was the major factor in that.

you're onto something, sir!

or maybe alot of people like blink's album? I don't care if the admins like me or not as I blast Neighborhoods nearly everyday. if people come to AP.net hoping that Jason Tate or Drew Beringer quoted them, they need lives. not attacking you FYI. just don't get the mob mentality thing haha.

i live 2 get quoted by mods!
07:42 AM on 10/10/11
amii_G
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This album is on repeat for me. I pick up new favourite lyrics each time. FFS, even the intro and interlude get to me.

Great review and I agree with the conclusion.
11:28 PM on 10/10/11
JTrain12
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good review, good cd...definitely one of the most impressive debuts in a long time

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