Review Summary: The hopes I had for J. Cole being the up and coming replacement for intelligent rap is all but crushed with a simple, yet easy to listen to, mixtape.
*** Point breakdown at the bottom for those of you who don't like reading.
J. Cole had me hoping that he'd grow to take over the politically and socially conscious raps that are really needed in the rap game. Instead, we get a fun to listen to, but nevertheless unimpressive and bland album. The beats are fat, and the raps are O.K. This will be bumped, but not by those yearning for something to challenge them to listen and think.
The beats on this album are all well produced. This is no surprise with Cole's affiliation with Roc Nation and Jay-Z. The beats all have fat bass, and they all rock along behind the rap. This is a good driving album, you'll feel the bass and you can nod along to all of the tracks. While there's nothing particularly impressive in the beats on The Canvas, they get along well enough to be unobtrusive to the raps going on.
This has turned into the quintessential "Let's throw everyone that's becoming popular and the people that are bringing 'em up on this mix tape. That'll make it good." With the likes of Wale, Kanye West, and Drake on this mix tape, the tape doesn't lack guest appearances. In fact, seven out of the fifteen songs have guests. This can be alright, if you don't let it become something where you're just getting the same kind of track out with all of them. Unfortunately, that's not the case on this album. J. Cole leaves this album all about the usual: Women, Money, and Marijuana. Braggadocio can be found everywhere, and it leaves a lot to be desired. I understand one or two tracks rep'ing your crew and bragging about how dope you are, or how much dope you smoke, but I don't need 50 some odd minutes of it. It's generally unoffensive, except for Mirror.
The seventh song on this album, Mirror, is a mistake. There's no way around it. J. Cole is not someone with the ability to hold down a track like this. With a pressing synth line and a fat, racing bass line, Cole feels lost. He's fine on the simple bouncy tracks like "Morning" and most of "The Come Up", but it's obvious when he tries to play the big bad rapper, he fails. This is unredeemable, and I've found myself either skipping this song or shutting off the album multiple times.
Generally, the album is easy to listen to and unoffensive. Unfortunately, it also doesn't bring much to the table. If you're a J. Cole fan, cop this. If you're a pop rap fan, cop this. If you feel like your music should challenge you as a person or as a thinker, pass on this.
PS: Constructive criticism is always welcome in the comments, just make sure they're constructive, and not just criticisms. Thanks in advance