Likes: Dollar and a Dream III, Lost Ones, Daddy’s Little Girl
Overall: Partially mindless, partially of substance. J.Cole has potential, but has some developing to do.
Jay-z’s latest protégé, J.Cole, is walking potential; he’s like a beginner’s level Kanye West (having an intense style and attractive phrasing) and a Drake cross-breed (promising talent that arouses attention). Exciting as that may sound to some, the keyword here is potential. On his debut, “Cole World-The Sideline Story,” Cole shows he’s a newbie as much as he shows talent, mixing run-of-the-mill rap themes with meaningful matter.“Dollar and a Dream III” is a sincere opening, as Cole comments on society, life and trying to succeed in the industry, displaying his strong flow. Afterward, “Cole World” goes downhill as he does the “typical rap thing,” boasting and talking about sex. I was so annoyed with the inundation of sex right at the beginning of the album that I wouldn’t have taken Cole seriously if it wasn’t for his flow. On “Lights Please,” he talks about how distracting getting coochie is. I thought “How old are you? 15?” As for the bragging, I’ve always found boasting on debut rap albums ridiculous. Most artists have worked hard in the background for years prior to a major release, but they still have a lot to prove to the mass audience.
Cole gets back on the artistic and productive tip with “Lost Ones,” using the story of a young couple in crisis to discuss youth attitudes about abortion, love and relationships. “Never Told” discusses how some father figures reinforce negative behavior patterns in their sons. Spring-boarding from that subject, “Breakdown” encourages the partners and children of neglectful men not to succumb to their emotional voids. “Daddy’s Little Girl” is about girl with a broken spirit living life in the fast-lane and on the track to nowhere. Left off of the album is the valuable “Nothing Lasts Forever,” a less mature, but likable version of Jay-Z’s “Song Cry.” Just as the content is a split between philosophical and sleazy, the production wavers between hard-hitting and forgettable, but it’s nonetheless adequate.
Because of the more trivial and penis-driven moments on the album, I want to write J.Cole off, but I can’t because I feel that his material will mature and sharpen with time. If you don’t purchase this album, I would definitely suggest buying the next one.