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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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13 Responses to "J. Cole – "Cole World: The Sideline Story" – @@@@ (Review)"
  • sTeeZo says:

    I love the fact that someone like J. Cole exist in mainstream music. I think he’s a very talented cat with a lot of potential but this LP was only OK.

    It’s not that this album was wack, it’s far from it. If anything, the LP’s energy was just too low for me. I wanted to hear dude spit on sum mo up tempo raw shit like that “Who Dat?” joint.

    There’s some standout joints on Cole’s album mos def but, The whole thing felt slowed down, like he was being held back.

    I’m not sure if it’s because of some company suit or Jay-Z himself but, Cole needs to stop listening to them.

    @BrucePtheGod:
    I totally agree with you about Jay-Z’s “ear for talent”. The only cat at the Roc who blew up was Kanye, who ignored Jay and Dash when they told him to stick to just producing.

    I thought Cole World: The Sideline Story was a solid LP but, I know J. Cole can give us more musically and that’s what I was waiting for but, it just didn’t happen…maybe on his next release

  • drg says:

    I haven’t put it down since i got it albeit it sounds like two albums in one. theaz the classic cole with joints like lost ones, breakdown and daddy’s lil girl…then theaz the Jay-inspired side with work out, can’t get enough and Mr.Nice watch(wich i only acknowledge as part of the album this morning, it really is that bad!)RocNation needs to pay the bills so i may not like the latter but i understand why it’s thea. But the cup is half-full for me…I’ll imagine it’s 1994 and i purchased this album as one of those ol skul cassette tapes…. Cole World Side A is straight fire!

  • E says:

    This album was solid, but where are the Phonte and 9th Wonder reviews? It’s been a week already, come on!

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