Since signing to Jiggaman’s Roc Nation imprint all eyes have been on J. Cole. Well, not Tupac “All eyes” status, but heads in the hood were curious as to why Mr. S. Dot Carter took a shining to the young Tarheel. Cause everybody knows that for every Beanie Sigel and Rihanna that Jiggaman’s brought to the game he’s also tacked on an Aztek and a Teairra Mari or two or three. So one of the questions that’s on the mind of most of the hip-hop world right now is: Did Hova find a diamond in the rough or just coal to discard into the fire should the Roc Nation movement fail to gain momentum?

If his freestyles on “’Till Infinity” and “I Shot Ya!” instrumentals are any indication of how hungry this kid is to show and prove that he’s ready to be crowned Rookie of The Year, then get Charles Barkley away from the buffet cause J.  Cole is ready to go in with his off the meat rack material. But almost anyone can drop a hot 16 over a gutter beat, right? Well them same freestyle artists can’t put together dope thought-driven songs like “Can I Live,” “Dreams,” "Lights Please." Straight album sounding cuts on a mixtape. More concept songs than battle rhymes, dude can drop more jewels about life than T-Pain can stuff in his “Dumb Ass Chain.”

And being a Jay artist, you’d have to expect him to rhyme over a classic Hova song. He chose “Dead Presidents II” and luckily he didn’t make an ass out of himself when spitting, “Heaven or hell? You choose/freedom or jail? You lose/I can’t stop I’m as hot as the Devil’s shoes/overcame a low life status to blow like Gladys/ahead of my time like I live my whole life backwards/I’m nothing like these ho like rappers/my whole life practiced to be the one/what it’s like to be Lebron? They callin’ you the savior, so much pressure but you deal with it/the weight of the world on your shoulders but you still lift it.”

I must say that when the mixtape was over I was hella impressed with how this young man carried himself on these tracks. Never lazy with the flow and constantly attacking the mic with clever rhymes and intriguing lyrics and content, J. Cole seems to be the type of MC that can maintain his cool composure throughout an entire project even when under the wing of a living hip-hop legend. Though his “I’m the shit” metaphors on every other song became tiring and his hook game could use a little more sharpening, son is on the right track and will no doubt develop a loyal following. Has Jay finally found an heir to the Roc throne? Too soon to say, but with Jay at the helm of his career, what’s the worst that can happen?

Do not ask Peedi Crakk, Neef, Christion, Diamonds In Da Rough, Amil, Rell or Tru Life that question though...-The Infamous O

Hottest Joint: “Can I Live”

Weakest Joint: “Get Away”


More From XXL