Where do I even begin?
I have a lot of places I could begin from, seeing as I am currently listening to ‘The Come Up’ as I write this.
Jermaine. Mr. Dreamville. Carolina’s finest. So many terms can be used to refer to the phenom that is J Cole, but I will begin from this point: The boy who ran away from everyone and everything he loved to fulfill his ambition.
Jay Z said that ‘you can’t knock the hustle’. You have to respect it. And as a fan of Jay, I’d say Cole respected the hustle, was dedicated to it, loyal to it, true to it. And, as it turned out, the game became true to him.
I mean, this guy was 19 years old when he moved to New York, using college as a stepping stone to enabling him to achieve his dreams. How’s that for ambition? I’d call it blind faith, because Cole was chasing a dream that was far from guaranteed of its realization. But when I really think about it I wouldn’t say it was blind faith. Cole must have foreseen all this.
He must have pictured himself conquering both New York and NC before he wrote ‘A Tale of 2 Citiez’. He must have released his mixtapes as ‘The Come Up’ ‘The Warm Up’ and ‘Friday Night Lights’ in that order (Notice the basketball themes?) because he knew he was going to blow up. Hell, he has a song titled ‘blow up’ on Friday Night Lights, a mixtape released right before he blew up. Needless to say, ‘B*tch I’m about to blow up’ is one of hip hop’s finest prophecies, up there with Lil Wayne’s ‘I’m going to retire very rich, very successful and the game will be begging me to come back.
I cannot say that I have been Cole’s fan since his ‘Therapist’ days. (Jesus, have you listened to that collection? That Nas & Eminem flow! ) Not even upto Friday Night Lights. I wasn’t even in love with hip hop then, I was too busy dealing with an existential crisis and trying to read mixed signals from girls while all I was doing was setting myself up for some of the biggest cases of ‘Friendzone’ known to man.
That came out sadder than I intended 😀
As much as I would have loved to have watched him grow into the artist he is now, I missed the J Cole train and jumped on the ‘Cole World: The Sideline Story’ bandwagon, like all people who would call themselves J Cole fans while all they have done to associate themselves as such is have ‘Power Trip’ on repeat, Google the meaning of ‘Cole World’, and catch on the 2014FHD Drive hype and ride it like they’re from Fayetteville.
(I am a 21 year old from Nairobi, Kenya, just to clear it up.)
Who am I kidding; I did most of that too.
But I would never forget the time I started going into his old work. It was around last year, April. I had just returned to Nairobi after going on my exchange program, and I needed something to fill the Delhi sized void in my heart. My timing would turn out to be good too, because I was about to begin the most stressful academic year of my life, and I needed something to smoothen the journey to the end of the year. And smoothen out the edges he did. I heard ‘Crunch Time’ a song off his ‘Truly Yours’ mixtape, around that time, and downloaded the mixtape thereafter. Then the next mixtape. And then the next one. And then the first 3. By the time I was at ‘The Warm Up’ I was hooked. My mind was blown. It was all too good to take in. That flow, the stories and the way it was majorly themed on ‘The Grind’. It was just what I needed at the time.
I say that I’ll never forget that moment because it was the same moment that I fell in love with Hip Hop. 90% of my music collection and my love for it, I owe it to discovering him and his work. It is the reason I’m writing. My reason for putting this blog up, and that is why I felt it appropriate that this be my first post.
I don’t exaggerate when I say that his music has gotten me through some hard times. ‘Crunch Time’ is the original grinders’ anthem. ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ depicts the tale of lost love. ‘Wet Dreamz’, (enough was said on the song) ‘Love Yourz’ is a very personal song to me. And ‘Born Sinner’ enforces the fact that my momma may sometimes hate the way she raised me but she loves what she raised.
I could go on and on, but nothing I say would afford you nearly enough value as compared to listening to his work yourself. I urge you, get on it. Download his whole discography and get to listening. If you have lost faith with hip hop due to less meaningful releases over the past decade, keep calm and listen to one of the pioneers of the sort of ‘New School’ that saved Rap music. I hope to have you as part of the Cole family soon enough, if you aren’t already part of it. 🙂