Album: Friday Night Lights
Label: Roc Nation
Release date: November 12
Rating: Get it for free--now!
On standout track "Home For the Holidays," J. Cole raps, "The worst part of growing up, man, shit just aint for free--but maybe I can be someone people pay to see." And while that's not an issue he has to struggle with any longer, the lines are exemplary of the earnest honesty that make the North Carolina-born Jay-Z protégé someone you have to listen to. Rarely, if ever, does a 20-track mixtape sport few weak moments, and Cole did just that with Friday Night Lights--though anyone familiar with 2007's The Come Up or 2009's The Warm Up shouldn't be surprised. And with all but five of them either produced or co-produced by Cole himself, tracks tap into his usual arsenal of classical piano and strings and chop samples from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel and Tupac. What's most striking, though, is that he's capable of making conscious hip-hop outside of the conscious mold, whether speaking on going without, lacking and becoming role models or numbing the pain with drink. In advance of his delayed debut full-length Cole World (now expected sometime in December), J. Cole offers up a taste of the real world.
Standout tracks: "Higher" / "Before I'm Gone" / "Home For The Holidays"