27 September, 2011@5:12 pm
It seems as though we’ve been talking about Jermaine Cole for years. Impressive guest spots and near classic mixtapes will do wonders for an artist as far as buzz is concerned. In Cole’s case, the hype machine has churned not because of self promotion or an unwarranted co-sign, but rather because of pure talent. Cole is the kind of producer/emcee double threat that is able to not only craft his own sound, but also deliver the words that match the production. As we’ve seen, it can lead to success. So as he brings us his official debut; “Cole World:The Sideline Story”, Cole strives to do what every new anointed one has tried to do: live up to the hype.
In team sports, the sign of a great player is one that makes those around him better. Cole’s seemingly effortless sample based production has warmed the ears of listeners, helping him build a following not only for him, but for others. His raw production, highlighted by his magical use of drums, pleases the ear from beat to beat. In producing all but 3 tracks on Cole World, Cole leaves nothing to chance. Tracks such as “God’s Gift”, “Sideline Story” and the standout title track “Cole World”, highlight Cole’s talent on the production side.
Since dropping The Come Up Mixtape Vol. 1 in 2007, Cole has left an impression and peaked with his arguably classic mixtape Friday Night Lights. At this point in his career, as an emcee, Cole is a more developed Kanye West. Lyrically and in his delivery, Cole delivers impassioned words, often wearing his heart on his sleeve. Introspective tracks such as “Dollar and a Dream III”, “Sideline Story”, “Lost Ones”, “Nobody’s Perfect” and No I.D. produced “Never Told” show Cole at his best. Though an emcee has to diversify material, Cole’s talents as an emcee are shown in his ability to tell a story and be introspective.
Even though it is a very strong, solid debut, Cole World does have it’s weak points. Surprisingly, the album really only has two guests, Jay-Z and Drake, on “Mr. Nice Watch” and “In the Morning”, respectively. However the guest spots are very underwhelming. Both come off as very unimpressive, as Jay sounds like he’s merely appearing to keep the Roc Nation profits up, while Drake phones it in. Neither is really Cole’s fault, but as potentially lead singles, both tracks fall flat.
Critics of Cole have described him as an impressive artist that lacks star power. Though he’s ill on the production side and talented as an emcee, some have argued that his demeanor and lack of a major hit single are what will keep him from blowing up. Talent wise, Cole laps artists that are considered to be his contemporaries, specifically Drake and Wiz Khalifa. However, his lack of self promotion and image as basically a normal dude keep him from making the next step. The same narrative can be used to describe Cole World. Production wise, the album is stout and lyrically Cole does his thing, but Cole World is another example of how impossible it is to live up to the hype machine.
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