J. Cole Releases His Debut After a Two Year Wait

For a while, the question wasn’t when J. Cole’s debut album was coming out, but rather if it was.

Signed in 2009 as Roc Nation’s first artist, Jermaine Lamarr Cole showed his immense talent in both rapping and producing with two critically acclaimed mixtapes in “The Warm Up” and “Friday Night Lights.” But that’s all they were – mixtapes. A first release date, Oct. 24, 2010 was put out, but after the album’s initial first single “Who Dat” flopped on the charts, the album was pushed back.

People started criticizing Cole for his alignment with Jay-Z, along with his incapability to create a chart-topping single. Some of Hov’s protégés like Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Freeway floundered under his eye and never became the stars that they were imagined to be. Therefore, with that kind of history, Cole falling into the same trap was a pretty common belief.

And the day that many people never saw coming is finally here. Cole World: The Sideline Story combines the Cole whom people have grown to love and appreciate over the past few years with his storytelling ability and the Cole who caters to the mainstream a bit more than his previous projects. A nice balance between the two gives the listeners a great debut that appeals to all masses.

“Lights, Please” and “In The Morning” are immediately recognizable for Cole fans, as they were on previous mixtapes. This drew criticism from some because they want the album to consist of only new songs to be fresh. However, the reasoning behind putting them on the album – “Lights, Please” was the song that got him signed, while “In The Morning” really increased his buzz. In addition, they’re great songs to begin with. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt the LP at all.

The standout tracks are located in different spots of the album. After an interlude in which Cole tells a story about spending a night in jail the day of getting signed, “Sideline Story” combines guitars and a piano in a beautiful mix, while the lyrics discuss his rags to riches story. “Lost Ones” is an incredible concept track that brings forth a conversation between a couple after an unexpected pregnancy. “Rise and Shine” showcases loud and pompous horns and a humorous Jay-Z interview sample at the beginning, while “Breakdown” is a more somber track that talks about the desire to give up in three different situations.

“Mr. Nice Watch” is a completely different sound than the rest of the tracks, building off the ever-growing dubstep influence that worked well for the track’s featured guest, Jay-Z, on his latest album, “Watch The Throne.” And speaking of Hov, the album’s second single “Can’t Get Enough” with Trey Songz has a vibe of Mr. Carter’s “Big Pimpin'” from back in the day. There’s not one full sound on this album, but rather a collection of them that gives the listener a wide range of enjoyability.

Cole World: The Sideline Story is one of the year’s best rap albums and should make Cole’s boss very happy. An album that was delayed for so long was definitely worth the wait.