J. Cole should consider swapping album titles with Big Sean. The North Carolina product previewed material from his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, on Wednesday night (August 17) for press, and if tracks like mixtape favorites “Lights Please” and “In the Morning” featuring Drake, both set to be included on Cole World, impressed, then the Roc Nation signee is gonna be Finally Famous.
“I’m mad nervous, this is crazy,” Cole told the crowded room of critics who gathered at Roc the Mic Studios. Joining Cole in support were, Bystorm executive Wayne Barrow, Young Guru, and several Roc Nation employees. “This is the first time I’m playing the album for people other than selected fans.”
Songs titles are subject to change, as well as the sequencing, so the rapper and Roc Nation respectively asked that tracks not be identified.
The album opens with a familiar theme, a number lifted from his mixtape series, but buoyed by Cole’s meticulous production, including several progression changes.
Overall, the project is introspective, perhaps more than the guarded young MC has ever been, touching on personal topics such as the relationships with his father and mother.
The witty lyricist leaves plenty of room, however, for his pointed bars, including one particular track where he mercilessly boasts: “They know a star when they see a star nigga/Ain’t even gotta fuck him to know he a raw nigga.”
The Jay-Z protégé is still waiting on the leader of the Roc to bless him with a 16. But Cole played the record he has in mind for Hov; a track that could potentially end the album, that he produced. Cole actually was behind the boards for the majority of Cole World, with contributions from No I.D., Danjahandz, and L&X Music, among other co-producers.
When asked about the Jigga contribution, Cole was measured in his response, “You’re guess is as good as mine.”
But the St. John’s graduate was also confident and prideful about the collaboration.
“I don’t need a verse from Jay-Z,” he said, noting that it would just add another chip on his shoulder to prove his mettle as a musician. “But I don’t want to have to answer questions about it for the next year, either.”
Cole World: The Sideline Story is due September 27. —Jayson Rodriguez