This is cool, but is it big and easy enough for Americans to use?
You might want to lay low for a while.
Play, Cole World; how many times I’ve listened to this album the whole way through in one sitting since its release on the 27th of November, 2011, is unknown to me, I’ve done it so many times.
The album shows Cole fans that anyone can reach their dreams if they work hard enough; countless times have we heard the Fayetteville rapper mention his struggle with record labels and his persistance in getting his music “out there”, so to speak, Jay-Z in particular. The release of the album signified Cole ‘making it’ in the industry, the release of a first commercial album is a huge achievement after all, and what a first album it is.
Personally, I was waiting for this album for a solid couple of years, eagerly downloading mixtape after mixtape, single after single and unreleased cypher after unreleased cypher, never disappointed. On the day of the album’s release I had an hour time-window in which to travel to HMV and buy the hard-copy CD; nonetheless, nothing would stop me buying this CD. When I finally got the CD home and listened to it I was surprised to find so many familiar songs on the album; Cole fans will have recognised such songs as Lights Please, In the Morning, Lost ones and, arguably, Work Out and Mr. Nice Watch before the album dropped, either on mixtapes or websites releasing them as promotional music. Nevertheless I wasn’t disappointed at all with the tracklist, the songs I knew or the songs I didn’t, and when the album got all the way through and Work Out played its final note, I clicked ‘restart’ on the Intro and listened to the whole album again.
You might call me biased because I am such a fan of J. Cole’s work, but I’ll sidestep this accusation by telling you I didn’t initially appreciate the re-recording of Lost Ones, I disliked the change of production. I now prefer it to the original, but this is beside the point. I gave the album to a housemate of mine to listen to, bear in mind the closest she’d ever come to listening to rap was with Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra which is also a good album although again I digress. My point here being that she wasn’t a rap/hip-hop head at all… then I gave her the album to listen to. She put it on her iPod and listened to the album that same day. Sure enough she loved it, noting Nobody’s Perfect as her favourite track on the album. You may say this information is all a bit pointless, however it just goes to emphasise the universalism of the album, and the wide range of audiences it can appeal to. In fact, the hearing of the album prompted her to download all of J. Cole’s mixtapes to date and attempt to book tickets for one of his upcoming concerts- she was devastated when she found out we couldn’t go.
So, let’s just assume that this album wasn’t a hip-hop album, because it isn’t, essentially it’s a lot more, for the sake of it appealing to the masses, which it does, including Indie, Slow-Jam and R&B fans. The album not only presents an overcoming of disadvantaging circumstances and the end-product of hard work, but a step in the right direction of a “dead” music genre, Hip-Hop. J. Cole’s album silences many critics, no offence intended toward Nas, who argue that “Hip Hop is Dead”. The album is a classic, in my eyes, with countless years of listening time before it which, as Cole himself states, is one of the key stimulants which help one determine a ‘classic’ album.
I would at this point like to take the basic means of assessing anything and mark the album out of ten, ten of course being perfect and one being a waste of CD-plastic, recording time and studio electricity. I’d give the album 9/10, not a solid ten for me simply because it hasn’t been out for long enough, the final point for me is a ‘legendary’ quality which can only be attained over a long period of time since the album’s initial release and yet the album still renders many artists’ works obsolete in comparison. Prime examples for me would be, in quite a cliché manor, 2Pacalypse Now by Tupac and Ready to Die by Biggie Smalls, two of the greatest Hip-Hop albums ever made.
This 9/10 suggests the album is definitely up there for album of the year, along with Watch the Throne and, possibly, Take Care, though, of course the year isn’t over yet (cough, cough Young Jeezy). But the newcomer to the game definitely has iron legs to stand on in this competition; definitely worth at least a listen and a purchase, it’s a great way to spend £8.99 as well, or the US equivalent, whatever that may be.