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

Posted: September 20, 2011 by eptarheels23 in Album Review, Music
Tags: , , , , , ,

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It’s finally here!!! 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. I don’t really want to ramble on about this and that going into the album, so without further adieu hit the jump for the review on the Roc Nation emcee’s debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story!

1. Intro 4/5
The album begins with a very dreamy feeling and Cole makes it work for him perfectly. The beginning is excerpts of Cole stating “the day I got signed” and him telling the story. I’m a huge fan of the piano filled beat that sets the tone to perfection. Cole also drops a few bars over it and he sounds hungry, like he still has something to prove. Excellent intro for the album to begin on.

2. Dollar and a Dream III 5/5
Wow, I love every minute of this track. One of the longest tracks on the LP has Cole doing what he does best: no hook, just downright nasty verses. Continuing from the intro, J. Cole keeps up the sound that he has a chip on his shoulder and he’s hungry. Yet he still comes off with a nasty flow and dope lines all over the track. The beat switches up from verse to verse and I love that addition to the record. It makes it feel like the record is ever changing and evolves along with Cole’s sound as he progresses in his career. As a sidenote I think the third beat change is the sickest and this is the best version out of the Dollar and a Dream series.

3. Can’t Get Enough (feat. Trey Songz) 5/5
The second official single from the Fayetteville emcee has some serious radio potential. It has a crazy beat filled with big time synth kicks and a dope sample. Also you have Cole spazzing on his verses with sick flow and then there’s Mr. Steal Yo Girl’s catchy-as-hell hook. Normally I’m not a fan of the tracks that the labels throw out there to push on the radio, but this is a huge exception. For all of you that hated Work Out, this should appease your appetite as a hit single. Now all we need is Roc Nation to push it, just don’t over play it too much.

4. Lights Please 5/5
I have no idea why Cole decided to put this on the album. Yes it is an absolutely incredible track, yes it was supposedly the track that got you noticed by Jay-Z, but it’s an old mixtape track. I’m not hating on this song, it’s amazing and it got everyone introduced to Cole in the first place. I’m just questioning his reasoning of putting it on the album. I think most people would have wanted new, original material more than an old track. Now if this had not of been on The Warm Up and been new to this album, then we’d be dealing with a different situation. But it was and that’s that; there’s nothing we can do to change it.

5. Interlude 3/5
Quick little interlude where Cole talks about the day he figured out Jay-Z wanted to sign him. Over a mellow piano beat he talks about how he was in his car and actually got pulled over by a cop. He eventually spent the night in jail but he says “it was the easiest night in jail” because he knew that success was just around the corner for him.

6. Sideline Story 4.5/5
Without a doubt this is classic J. Cole. Everything on this track says Cole; the emotional verses, sing-songy hook, dope lyrics. The song deals with the idea that Cole is a player waiting on the bench for his coach (Jay-Z obviously) to put him in the game. He speaks on being annoyed with the Jay-Z questions and wanting someone to give him the “guidelines, on how to get up off the sidelines”. Well damn Hov, I think it’s time to put him in the game. Matter of fact he’s now your franchise player.

7. Mr. Nice Watch (feat. Jay-Z) 5/5
What the hell is this? Absolutely not what I expected from Cole and his mentor. The beat is along the lines of dubstep and is different than anything Cole has ever done. With that being said, I completely love this song. I’m a fan of dubstep music and I couldn’t state any more how much I love this beat. It has a killer bass and sounds like something from Deadmau5 and not J. Cole. The Jay-Z addition on this song is nice, but I would have preferred it on the song Cole originally wanted it on (which is God’s Gift). Otherwise I could see this song having hit potential and while it probably won’t be the most liked by critics, I’ll jam to this all day long.

8. Cole World 5/5
Everything you like about Cole rolled into one; this track shows why J. Cole appeals to many people. The beat will simply rattle your speakers you’ll be glad you spent that extra dough on those Beats by Dre headphones. Cole spits really hard on this one and his verses are straight business. They eventually give way to another one of his song-songy hooks that will be stuck in your head for a long time to come. This could end up being one of the more underrated songs in the entirety of the LP.

9. In the Morning (feat. Drake) 5/5
Once again, why Cole? Before the album this was my favorite J. Cole song to date, but that doesn’t mean stick it on the album. It fit in on the mixtape and was favorites of almost everyone, but don’t put it on the LP. Well he put it on here and there’s nothing we can do about it, so we we’ll just have to live with it. I’m pretty sure everyone’s heard this song by now, but the dopest thing about the entire song is the way that Cole and Drake start off their own verses. Cole spits, “baby you summertime fine” and Drake raps “baby you wintertime cold”, sick. Another sidenote is that this is one of my favorite beat of all-time, the deep bass and piano are incredible to listen to.

10. Lost Ones 5/5
Holy s**t J. Cole. This is music. When I first heard this it blew me away with his ability to tell a story. I was extremely pissed that this track leaked a while ago, this deserved to be a surprise to everyone. Well in the case you’re not familiar, it deals with the whole problem of abortions and unplanned pregnancies. The first verse deals the point of view from the boyfriend agruing with his girlfriend, the second is the girlfriend and the last is a friend and someone who is observing the whole situation. Forget that Lil Wayne Abortion s**t and listen to some real music from the Roc Nation emcee. This is a deep song with a very deep message.

11. Nobody’s Perfect (feat. Missy Elliot) 5/5
The first time I heard this track I just sat back and smiled at the genius that is J. Cole. The record starts off slow with Cole flowing at his best but when the beat dropped at about the thirty second mark, my mind went insane. My head was nodding along at a dangerous velocity and I couldn’t help it at all. The Missy Elliot feature caught everyone off guard but it’s a welcome appearance by all. Her hook is infectious and has a definite soul feel to it, making the track that much better. Sadly she has no verse, but this may actually have my favorite beat on the album (even with what I said about In the Morning).

12. Never Told 4.5/5
Here’s another relationship anthem from Cole. The one No I.D. produced track on the album is a banger and J. Cole has that dexterous flow over the whole track. Once again the top of the line headphones will treat you well here and I couldn’t be happier with how the album is going so far. I could see this track falling by most people because it doesn’t really stick out in any single way, but it does everything extremely well; and that’s sufficient for me. I do have one complaint though, the track is only 3:30 long and the last minute is all guitar riffs. Either cut that last minute off or throw in another verse there Cole. But that’s just a small complaint in the whole record.

13. Rise and Shine 4/5
This record opens with a sample from the documentary, Backstage where Jay-Z talks about the next great artist he’ll sign. This obviously has importance to Cole because that next great is him. Even if he won’t admit that himself, he is the next great. The beat has some seriously triumphant horns and J. Cole’s just goes in for bars and bars and bars. This eventually gives way to a dope hook that does the job. This isn’t the best track on the album, however on other albums it might have been the absolute standout.

14. God’s Gift 5/5
As I said above this is supposedly the track that Cole wanted Jay to drop a verse on. And everything about this song makes sense for Jay to have rapped on. The North Carolina emcee drops references to Hov albums and songs throughout the whole song. It confuses me why Jay-Z would have spit on Mr. Nice Watch over this, and the only thing I could think of was that Mr. Nice Watch could become a huge hit for the label. I just hope this means that Hov isn’t selling out. One thing I know is that J. Cole isn’t selling out anytime soon. In my mind J. Cole made a song worthy and fitting for Jay to lend his hand on, and he didn’t. Oh well.

15. Breakdown 4/5
This has been the one and only pass for me on the album. It is yet another emotional record from J. Cole and he speaks on many things. The first verse is him talking about how he wanted a father but he was never around. The second is on his mother and the last is about an unnamed woman. The beat has a very playful and calm feel to it, but J. Cole says how sometimes he just wants to stop and break down and cry on the hook. It’s all good Cole, we all want to do that sometimes too.

16. Cheer Up 5/5
For some reason J. Cole tweeted this track and said it was in the final tracklisting, yet it’s not on the iTunes version. With that being said I’m going to review it anyway. This is an amazing close to the album as it has the positive message of to just cheer up. The up-beat track has some nasty verses from Cole and once again, a catchy hook. As I just said this closes out the LP on a resounding great note and leaves the listener with an amazing feel. After all the ups and downs J. Cole has been through (both physically and through his music), he has a bright outlook and you should too.

17. Nothing Lasts Forever (Bonus Track) 4.5/5
This is an extremely good extra from the Roc Nation spitter. It has a well sung chorus from an unnamed female singer and it fits in well with the overall feeling of the song. Cole flows well throughout his verses, but that’s to be expected. This record does nothing new or original from J. Cole, which can lead it be forgotten in the flow of the rest of the album.

18. Work Out (Bonus Tracks) 5/5
5/5?? I know most of you are probably rolling you’re eyes ridiculously right now. However if you know me personally, then you’ll know that I’ve loved this song ever since it first dropped. It has a crazy beat and throw in Cole’s sick verses, nice sing-songy parts and it makes for a great records (at least for me). Even if you don’t like this song, Roc Nation should have pushed it more. It seems like when it came out and received mixed reviews and they dropped it right that second. Did that stop Lil Wayne and How to Love? Absolutely not, that s**t is on the radio 24/7. Now answer me this question: would you rather hear Work Out or How to Love on the radio? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

19. Daddy’s Little Girl (Bonus Track) 3.5/5
Very similar to Nothing Lasts Forever in the fact that is doesn’t do anything new, but does the already established very well. The beat does start off with a little bit of an alien sound and transitions to an almost eerie sound, but it’s still the same ‘ol Cole on this track. This track does have Cole telling a riveting story again. Detailing the life of a girl who was trained to be a ballerina but ended up taking a different path and becoming an exotic dancer. It is a powerful track from the Fayetteville emcee and an overall solid bonus cut in general.

If you read the intro above or follow this blog, then you know that J. Cole is my second favorite artist right after Kendrick Lamar. And the question that I was asking myself right after finishing my first listen through was, “Section.80 or Cole World?” After a lot of arguing back and forth with myself, I came to this conclusion: Kendrick Lamar > J. Cole and Cole World > Section.80. Also if you know me, then you’ll know that it really pains me to say that Cole World was better than Section.80. I just can’t help it, J. Cole impressed me in every single way possible. There are lyrical song, bangers, radio hits and big time guest features. Now I know of you’re reading this before 9/27 you’re probably wondering how I could download it early. Well I have been waiting on this album forever and I couldn’t barely wait any longer. So I downloaded it, plain and simple. But since I feel so bad about downloading it early I’m going to do Cole a favor and buy three copies for him. If you downloaded the leak too, you should also buy multiple copies for J. Cole. I was really disappointed that it leaked early, it always seems to happen to him and the man just deserves the best. After I got that little rant out of the way back to the album; it blew me away. J. Cole has said that Cole World is going to be a series, so I was thinking and I decided that his next album should be called Cole World: Franchise Player. In the words of J. Cole, “cole under pressure, what that make? Diamonds”. And a diamond is what Cole gave us, COLE WORLD, NO BLANKET!

Download: J. Cole – Cole World: The Sideline Story (available 9/27)

  1. NJ says:

    Right so Mr Nice Watch & Work Out Get 5/5 and Breakdown (Easily among the beast three tracks on the album) Gets a 3.5? I’m not gonna throw abuse at you as you’re entitled to an opinion, even if it is stupid.

  2. #chief says:

    This review is pretty spot on. Well done. I’m in the same boat as you with Kendrick and Cole being my two current favorite MCs. However I’m gonna have to go with Section.80>Cole World but its pretty damn close.

    • eptarheels23 says:

      thanks so much man, its appreciated. kendrick and cole are just too good, section.80 and cole world are sooo good each that its such a close race. at the moment tho i’m giving cole world the edge, but it has to stand the test of time and still be as good later on just like section.80 did

  3. j9 says:

    i also realy liked breakdown, but agree with most of the other ratings, god’s gift and dollar and a dream are just tremendous, cole>kendrick but coleworld=section 80, thanks to the cole produced hiipower *jokes*

  4. Type says:

    This is an odd review, you give everything a 4 or 5 which makes it hard to weight which songs you like better than others, and also you gave one of my favorite songs (breakdown) one of the worst grades lol…that song is just straight soul! I know a lot of j cole fans are probably pissed that he put two of his mixtape songs on here but you have to remember a lot of casual fans haven’t listened to those yet, and probably never would if he didn’t put them on cole world. I think they really fit well with this album and have the same sound/feel as a lot of the other beats. I’ll be honest I only heard those songs once before and never listened to his mixtapes because I wanted him to really convince me with this album to be a fan, and it worked out well for me (as I hadn’t really listened to those songs a bunch of times). Also… Jay-z is just an idiot and really should have been on that god’s gift song like you said!

    • eptarheels23 says:

      I gave everything 4 0r 5 cause I liked the album so much but if i had to pick my favorites it would be: nobodys perfect, lost ones, dollar and a dream 3, gods gift and cole world (im not including in the morning and lights please cause they’re old). as I’ve said before breakdown is really growing on me, its slowly becoming on of my favorites. lastly thanks for the comment, its appreciated

  5. Scott says:

    Nobody’s perfect, by far the best track to me

  6. illa says:

    lost ones is my fav. tremendous beet and i love the message…. and also didnt like breakdown very much but grew on me too,

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