Album Preview: Cole World: The Sideline Story by J. Cole

Posted: August 29, 2011 by eptarheels23 in Music
Tags: , , ,

Not the official artwork, but dope nonetheless

Updated with official artwork + tracklisting! Check bottom for it

Ohh J. Cole. Where to begin with you? Well first let me state that he is my second favorite emcee ever (behind Kendrick Lamar of course) and that I have been looking forward to this album for a long time now. I have been on J. Cole ever since the release of The Come Up and it’s incredible to see him achieve the status that he has come to today. Let me get to the point, recently J. Cole held a private listening session for the album. The folks over at Complex were there and able to get details on the tracks. If you want a preview of Cole World: The Sideline Story (and I know you do), check below!

From now on I’ll let Complex do the talking (but if you want to see everything in their fancy little setup click here), otherwise if you’re lazy like me continue below:

“After releasing several acclaimed mixtapes—including the excellent The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights—J. Cole is finally dropping his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story. The Roc Nation signee held a private listening session in NYC on Wednesday and Complex was in the building. The tracklist isn’t finalized (and we were asked not to list song titles or quote lyrics), but Cole played the lion’s share of what will become his debut. The album is slated to drop on September 27, so for now, hear our thoughts…”

Track 1
Producer(s): Universal & J. Cole
The album opens with a dreamy soundscape that we can’t help but compare to Jay-Z’s Intro from The Dynasty. The desperation in Cole’s rhymes make him sound like he’s down to his last dime, but despite the circumstances he still comes off as a nice guy with a mean flow. The beat switches up slightly from verse to verse which is why Cole gets a co-producer credit.

Track 2
Producer(s): Danja & J. Cole
The plot of this track is comparable to Nas’ Black Girl Lost. The city is filled with good girls gone bad and Cole tells their story as he urges the ladies not to give it up easily. After the final verse, there’s a guitar breakdown that’s similar to the guitar solo in the middle of Kanye’s Devil In a New Dress.

Work Out
Producer(s): J. Cole
The lead single to the album might end up as a bonus cut. Although the track didn’t become a big hit, it’s still a strong effort that should have gotten more burn than it did.

Track 4
Producer(s): J. Cole
This track is a good representation of Cole’s appeal. The beat will make your speakers rattle. You’ll be glad you spent the extra bucks on top-of-the-line headphones. The sing-songy hook is trademark Cole. The verses are all business. Cole spits his heart out on this one.

Lights Please
Producer(s): J. Cole
You’ve heard if before, now hear it again. At the session, Cole explained this song was the track that won over his manager (Mark Pitt) and Jay-Z. It’s an excellent track, but putting an old song on a new album? This would make more sense as a bonus cut.

Track 6
Producer(s): J. Cole
This opens with a sample from the documentary, Backstage where Jay-Z is talking about finding that one great artist that he’ll sign. Obviously, that clip has special significance to Cole. The triumphant horns lead to Cole going in with bars and bars before breaking for a chorus that uses Now Lay Me Down to Sleep

Track 7
Producer(s): J. Cole
Like an overheating car, sometimes we all break down. On the first verse, Cole tells a heartbreaking tale of wanting a father but not having one around. The second verse deals with his mom and the final one is about an unnamed woman. The beat has a whimsical feel and he sounds calm but, on the hook, he admits that sometimes he wants to break down and cry.

Track 8 (Skit)
Producer(s): N/A
This is just a quick skit where Cole talks about the day he found out Jay-Z wanted to sign him. As soon as Cole got the good news he was pulled over and ended up spending the night in jail for parking violations. Talk about bad luck. Even so, he explains that it was “the easiest time ever” because he knew success was coming around the corner.

Track 9
Producer(s): J. Cole
Remember that country-rock song Centerfield by John Fogerty? This is the rap version of that. Cole tells us that being on the sidelines is a metaphor for his situation on Roc Nation. He sees himself as a player on the bench waiting for the coach (in this case, Jay) to put him in the game. Similar to Big Sean, Cole got signed by a major rap figure and everyone assumed his life was all good. In reality, he had to work to get his album out. On the song, Cole rhymes about being annoyed with questions about Jay-Z and he wishes someone could show him the guidelines to getting off the sidelines.

Track 10
Producer(s): J. Cole
This track is a continuation of the concept behind the Friday Night Lights cut It Cost Me A Lot. It shouldn’t be considered a true sequel because the song is over a dubstep beat that doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. Cole mixes material wishes of big chains with the knowledge of what jewelry means to people. However, the dope rhymes are undercut by the unwelcome departure from the rest of the album’s sound.

In the Morning (feat. Drake)
Producer(s): J. Cole
Here’s another song that’s been out for years but made the album. For Cole, this song never got the push it deserved but he figured he’d give it some shine. One important thing about this record is that it’s the only rap feature on the album (Cole is still waiting on his Jay verse which he may not get in time).

Track 12
Producer(s): J. Cole
There’s a very special guest on this track that we can’t reveal (Cole urged us not to) but it’s definitely not someone you’d expect and they are surely welcome. The song title reveals the subject matter: relationships.

Track 13
Producer(s): J. Cole
Cole has been holding on to this one for years but he’s finally ready to let it go. It’s an emotionally heavy track that deals with with unexpected pregnancy and abortion. On the first verse, Cole rhymes as a guy arguing with his lady. The second verse is from her perspective. The final verse is from a third-person point of view. For the second time on the album, Cole breaks down and cries which is another reminder that this era of rappers have been through way more breakups than shootouts.

Can’t Get Enough (feat. Trey Songz)
Producer(s): J. Cole
If you thought Workout underperformed as a commercial single, don’t worry. This song is so radio-ready, Roc Nation just needs to drop it already. With it’s big hook and boisterous beat, expect to hear it on radio soon.

Track 15
Producer(s): No I.D.
This is another relationship anthem but this one gets lost in the batch. By now, you’ve settled into the album’s groove. Cole still spits dexterous flows but it’s hard to distinguish this song from some of the others.

Track 16
Producer(s): J. Cole
This is the track that Cole made for Jay-Z. The song is still incomplete and missing a third verse. Cole’s verses have references to Jay’s albums and songs so it’s no wonder he thought it’d work for him. Cole thinks he finally made a song worthy of Jay, we can’t help but agree. Hate to break it to ya Jay, the ball is in your court now.”

This just gets me even more excited for the album. I do have a few questions tho; why did J. Cole put In the Morning and Lights Please on the album? Yes they are both incredible songs, but are old and both mixtape tracks. My other question is, Jay why are you taking so damn long in giving J. Cole your verse? If you truly wanted success for your protege then you record your verse for him. It seems like Cole has been waiting on this verse forever and Cole has the perfect song ready, it’s time for Jay-Z to step up to the plate. Other than that it looks like Track 13 is Lost Ones and Track 2 might be Cheer Up. Look for even more hype to build up around this album with the Any Given Sunday series and I’ll update this post when things such as official artwork and final tracklisting are released!

Download: J. Cole – Any Given Sunday, Vol. 1
Download: J. Cole – Any Given Sunday, Vol. 2

Courtesy of

Official Tracklisting
1. Intro
2. Dollar and a Dream III
3. Can’t Get Enough (feat. Trey Songz)
4. Lights Please
5. Interlude
6. Sideline Story
7. Mr. Nice Watch (feat. Jay-Z)
8. Cole World
9. In the Morning (feat. Drake)
10. Lost Ones
11. Nobody’s Perfect (feat. Missy Elliot)
12. Never Told
13. Rise and Shine
14. God’s Gift
15. Breakdown
16. Cheer Up
17. Nothing Lasts Forever (Bonus Track)
18. Workout (Bonus Track)
19. Daddy’s Little Girl (Bonus Track)

Pretty much the tracklisting everyone was expecting (sans the Missy Elliot feature). The good news is that Jay-Z finally got his verse in, I would have been so disappointed if he hadn’t of. So we have heard five of the tracks so far, but each and everyone of those has been great (yes even Workout). Well I don’t really have much else to say except that you need to go buy it when it comes out September 27th.


  1. Biqq Pete says:

    cant wait for this one… its a cole world

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