I’m listening to a preview of J. Cole’s debut album, “Cole World: A Sideline Story,” as I write this post up. It will be officially released tomorrow (September 27) through Roc Nation, and I have been looking forward to it for a long time. But now that I’m listening to it, an album that some claimed would be a 2011 “Illmatic” (um… talk about setting someone up for disappointment), it frankly isn’t as great as I was hoping it would be (not that I thought it would touch “Illmatic”… I was thinking maybe “College Dropout”). I need to listen to it more, but my impression at this point is that “A Sideline Story” is a very, very good album… with tracks that range from phenomenal (“Lost Ones”) to excellent (2/4/11/13/14/15) to… ummm… a song with Trey Songz and another with Drake. Like most albums it’s a mixed bag… (I think that someday I really ought to post a list of recent albums that ARE solid the whole way through because there HAVE been some great ones lately).
So yes… before I introduce my “Cole’s Mined” mixtape and laud Cole’s profound skills as a producer and lyricist, I feel a need to place a little asterisk here from the get-go.
Because, in all honesty, I meant this mixtape to be a promotion for people to go out tomorrow and grab what I anticipated would be the best overground hip-hop album of the year. Coz yeah, people talking about how mainstream hip-hop sucks (ok, most of it does) has been really pissing me off lately, and I wanted to see something that was being marketed AND was smart. Anyway, I’m losing some momentum on this push as we speak... and even as the album is getting much better from track 10 on, I didn’t want to extol something before listening to it first (I may have made that mistake with the Beck-produced Malkmus album that I was so amped up for earlier... I mean, it was A-okay, but did not end up being a great album either… sorry!).
Regardless, I’m thinking that you, my dearly discerning readers, should listen to this ridiculously good mixtape instead of buying the album (for the time being), as it contains what I consider to be the crème de la crème of free music that J. Cole has released online (through mixtapes) for the past four years. Then, once you fall in love with J. Cole’s genius, you can go out and support him and his music by buying his official album (with the realization that it may not live up to the hype). Because shit, listening to kick-ass track after kick-ass track on this svelte misshapedmixtape, you’d be crazy to not get really, really sma’xcited about what this young Fayetteville, North Carolina native will be bringing to the music industry for years to come. (One note: I was tempted to make this mix a double LP but decided to pick the finest -- like I civet who chooses carefully and then poops out only the best coffee beans -- so that we could stay under the 80 minute mark).
Okay now, where to start? First and foremost, I think that it’s important to note that J. Cole is both a rapper and a beatsmith… and that, in my opinion, he’s equally adept at both. For those that have been following this blog from the beginning, J. Cole actually contributed two beats that are on the XV mixtape (“Smallville” and “Watch Me Go”). As an MC, he showed tremendous potential and hunger when he dropped his first mixtape, “The Come Up Mixtape Vol. 1,” back in 2007. And he’s only gotten better since then (and signing with Jay-Z surely helped). I especially love his storytelling ability (check the heartbreaking “Killers”; identity-searching as a teen in “I Got It”; or the self-deprecating love-song “Dreams”).
I don’t want to put up any of his “quotable” lyrics here because I think that when J. Cole is working at his peak, he is able to produce poetry of the highest level. So please, enjoy this latest misshapedmixtape installment. And yeah, then maybe you can even go and grab the album. If you want.
J. Cole – “Cole’s Mined (a misshapedmixtape)" tracklist below (check for download link in “comments”):
01 : Too Deep For The Intro [Friday Night Lights]
02 : Premeditated Murder [Friday Night Lights]
03 : Killers [The Last Stretch]
04 : Losing My Balance [The Warm Up]
05 : Leave Me Alone [Roc Nation 2011]
06 : Blow Up [Friday Night Lights]
07 : Playground [For The Ville]
08 : Before I'm Gone [Friday Night Lights]
09 : World Is Empty [The Warm Up]
10 : Dolla & A Dream [The Come Up]
11 : Shook Ones (Freestyle) [For The Ville]
12 : The Badness (ft Omen) [The Warm Up]
13 : Cost Me A Lot [Friday Night Lights]
14 : Dead Presidents II [The Warm Up]
15 : We On [The Last Stretch]
16 : Dreams [The Warm Up]
17 : Enchanted (ft Omen) [Friday Night Lights]
18 : Show Me Something [For The Ville]
19 : I Got It [For The Ville]
20 : Lil Ghetto Nigga [The Come Up]
21 : The Last Stretch [The Last Stretch]
22 : Farewell [Friday Night Lights]