Review Summary: No more sitting on the sidelines for Mr. J. Cole.
J. Cole - Cole World: The Sideline Story
"The day I got signed"
That's what you hear J. Cole saying in the background. The album is going to be a "from rags to riches" sort of deal, if that wasn't obvious enough. The intro and the interlude coming later on go together.
2. Dollar and a Dream III
It makes sense that this is the first song on J. Cole's debut album on a major label debut. I love the first 2 Dollar and a Dream songs and this does live up to the expectations. The beat has an epic feel to it, as it should, considering Cole is finally living the DREAM. I really love the end of the 2nd verse.
3. Can't Get Enough ft. Trey Songz
I never heard this song before listening to the album and I'm surprised this was a single. I mean, yeah it totally sounds like a single but it's good for one. I feel like this is a perfect single for Cole...doesn’t degrade him as a rapper too much and has a pretty great (albeit repetitive) beat compared to other mainstream singles. If this can get pretty decent airplay (I wouldn’t know if it already does since I don’t listen to the radio), then I'd be a-ok with it.
Favorite line: <i>I’m from the Ville, where they bang for the money
And carry fo’-fives like change for a twenty</i>
4. Lights Please
I honestly think it's pretty dumb that Cole tacked this on to the album since it's so old but w/e. From what I see on this board, I'm one of the few people who actually really like this song. I love the hook and it's one of the few hooks on the album that have J. Cole singing that don't sound incredibly awkward. I thought (and still do think) this had single written on it but it probably never took off because of the vulgarness throughout the song. Also, that OH! throughout the beat is so. damn. ANNOYING. Jesus, J. Cole, you couldn't mix it up a little more?
5/6. Interlude/Sideline Story
The interlude is just J. Cole continuing his story from the Intro with a piano backing him. The said piano transitions straight into Sideline Story. When I first heard this, I didn’t know that it was 2 separate songs and when the drums from Sideline Story came in I was like O_O. That was a pretty awesome moment. This is one of my top 3 songs from this album. Another good hook from J. Cole and the beat is perfect. The drumbeat transition, the guitar in the background, it just all comes together so smoothly. Also, I love how J. Cole knows how to use acapella segments to his advantage like the start of the 3rd verse.
Favorite line:<i> I came up in here to take advantage of that **** you take for granted
oppurtunity I would kill for
lookin' at rapper like "what the **** you got a deal for?"</i>
7. Mr. Nice Watch ft. Jay-Z
And here it is. The Jay-Z collab. The response to Like a Star which was one of the very few bright spots on Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3. Well...I hated this song at first listen. The whole dubstep influenced beat just sounds out of place in the album so far. When I heard there was gonna be a J. Cole/Jay-Z collab on this, I thought "Yes! An epic collab in the vein of Renegade or Mr. Carter!" I was wrong. Also, what is that hook? This will probably never grow on me and I will never know for sure since I'm leaving it off my iPod and I really have no desire to listen to it again.
8. Cole World
Ugh. I don't really like this beat at all...it sounds like a bunch of synthy sounds thrown together in an effort to make a mainstream single. He has some cool one-liners on this, though (notice I said cool and not good). Remember when I was talking about the awkward singing? The beginning of this song is an example. Overall, a corny at times, overproduced title track.
9. In the Morning ft. Drake
Same thing with Lights Please, Cole is riding on the fact that this is one of those songs that people-who-don't-really-know-who-J. Cole-is-but-know-who-he-is knows. The beat is excellent. J. Cole has a good thing going with pianos and the synth in the background is perfect. Good choice by Cole to feature Drake on song and get the girls onto his music.
10. Lost Ones
And here we come to Lost Ones. I see everyone going nuts over this and stuff and I can see why. I heard the leak when it came out and I was like "ok, a song about abortion. Illogic made the same song but better" and that's it. But the album version came out and now I love this song. The strings he added to the beat are a perfect addition. The added vocals also do nothing but help the song. J. Cole rapping in the woman's perspective is also a really nice choice. However, if you have never heard Illogic's First Trimester then listen to it. AMAZING song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDiNpGSBgT4
11. Nobody's Perfect ft. Missy Elliot
As soon as the song started I knew I was going to enjoy it. The beat is one of my favorites from the album tbh. For some reason I love J. Cole's verses even though they're definitely not his most lyrical. Major props to Missy f’ing Elliot on the hook, too. I thought she was going to ruin whatever part she had on this but she did her thing with the singing on the hook. Very nice.
12. Never Told
I wasnt a fan of J. Cole flow on this but the beat is really damn good. I didn’t dig his flow but I do dig the lyrics. The beat, though. Damn. And those conversation samples between the verses are a great touch. I guess you can't expect nothing less than greatness from the legend No I.D. So far, only 2 relatively bad songs on the album through the first 12 tracks. Not bad.
13. Rise and Shine
The song opens with Jay-Z talking about signing J. Cole, continuing the story from the Intro and Interlude. After that some cool horns come in which I guess are going for that "epic" feel but something sounds missing. Idk how to explain it, but the beat is nice nonetheless. The vocal samples in the background provide reinforcement for that missing element in the horns and pick up the song. Cole goes pretty hard in this and the ratio of non-corny to corny lines in this song is actually pretty slim.
14. God's Gift
Yes. As soon as the song plays you know something is is going down. The same background voices from Rise and Shine are used but it's a different sample. J. Cole goes IN on this. I must have played this song a million times since first listening to it. The drums in the beat changing to match J. Cole's flow was awesome and guitar coming outta nowhere in the chorus is a great touch. I love how Cole actually shows emotion in this and it helps him greatly. My only complaint about this song is that it's so short.
Favorite line: <i>Worldwide stunner
Old man, I'mma
Reign on the game, make it storm and thunder </i>
This is a really nice song. At first I was like what is going on with this beat but it turned out for the better. Nice strings and piano segments in the background. This is probably one of the more lyrical songs on the album and I listened about 5 times to fully analyze the lyrics. Just a really good song.
16. Cheer Up
Another pretty awkwardly sung hook from Cole but it's actually a pretty good one. I'm not a fan of the drum beat in this, most notably the claps since I feel it doesn't really fit with the song. The outro of the song is really well-done though and when I was listening to the album for the first time on the bus I thought the album was over. If the outro would have extended a little more it would have been a perfect ending to the album.
17. Nothing Lasts Forever
Meh. Another piano based beat and the album is now overstaying it's welcome. I wasn’t keeping track of the leaks or w/e from before this album but didn’t this come out a long time ago? That makes 3 old songs on this. I'm probably wrong.
18. Work Out
I like the sample from The New Workout Plan but I feel like it's used way too much and gets kind of annoying. This is a cool song but it's not something I want to hear from J. Cole. A good single for him, I guess. More awkward singing. Now I'm starting to get tired of the album...
19. Daddy's Little Girl
The end. The final song...and it's not that great. The album should have ended with Cheer Up in my opinion.
Overall, I feel the album is a great major label debut for J. Cole. Almost the whole album has mainstream appeal and the singles are actually not that bad for singles, the exception being Mr. Nice Watch which is pretty bleehhhh. I mean...3 or 4 below average songs on a 19 track album? C'mon. The only question I have now is how long are the other songs going to last. Songs like Cheer Up are definitely not bad and Cheer Up is actually a really good song. I just don't see myself listening to it or a lot of the album say, a month from now. Also, I noticed a lot of similarities to The College Dropout era Kanye in this. God's Gift sounds like something TCD-era Ye would do and Cole sticking with his production style the whole way through reminds me of Kanye. If J. Cole can continue to make mainstream-appealing albums while not dumbing himself down as much like he successfully achieved here, he, and hip-hop, will have a bright future.