If you think that Waka Flocka Flame or Soulja Boy are ‘the truth,’ then the words that J.Cole spits may go over your head. If though, the watered down content, or ‘ignorant music,’ as a friend of mine likes to call it, is becoming too much to bare, then Friday Night Lights may be the most refreshing piece of music you’ve listened to in years. The 3rd mixtape effort by J.Cole, is Hip-Hop in its most classic sense, his cadence is impeccable, whether he’s going hard on a grimey street beat, a smooth r&b track, or a radio-friendly pop number. That’s enough dick riding though, Friday Night Lights isn’t a classic, but it might work out to be my favorite mixtape of all time; I’ve listened to it consistently, practically daily, since its November release, that’s saying a lot, and I still haven’t tired of it.
I will say from beginning to end, he takes you on a journey where you can literally feel someone reaching their dreams. So if you need a motivational album to keep you grinding and on the move, then you need to play Friday Night Lights. It’s my current go to album, when I need to pull an all nighter; The Autograph is sort of my current anthem song and holds some my favorite lines and play on words on the whole 20 track mixtape, like this one:
This my New Years resolution, dawg/no more Pork in me/I aint no Muslim though/Caron Butler, I’m a Wizard if he doesn’t know
What?!! If you know what Muslims read and are a basketball fan, that play on words is f’n ridiculous! As he says later in the song:
you know I feel ya pain, that’s why I slang this hope shit/and give you lines that you rewind and think, ‘oh shit’
My favorite songs on the mixtape are Villematic, Back to the Topic, and You Got It. Villematic is done over Kanye’s Devil in a New Dress beat. That’s an amazing beat regardless, but I love Villematic because J.Cole just comes off like a relevant dude of today. Not putting up some created image, he’s talking about real things, as well as dealing with fame. In our generation’s blog, facebook and tweeting obsessed state, lines like [see below] stick out to me.
old bitter-ass, sit around in middle class homes with computers on, hating on the newest song
You Got It uses a sample from one if my favorite Janelle Monae songs, Neon Valley Street. It’s the first song that he changes gears and moves to an R&B influenced Hip-Hop party track. He comes of charming, yet cocky, and solidifies the fact that he doesn’t just make music for the dudes.
Back to the Topic is a crazy freestyle; J.Cole’s flow on it is insane, and when he said he was going to murder it, he wasn’t lying. The song holds my favorite terminology right now, ‘plagiarized swag,’ and when you’re seeing kids getting ass-whoopins for made up street cred (see here), I can’t help but laugh. J.Cole says he’s ‘like the leader of new niggas,’ and I can kind of see that, with cats like Drake on the scene, there is a shift in what we stereotypically known as the rapper; Drake isn’t touching J.Cole on his flow though.
Speaking of Drake, J.Cole and Drake collaborate on In the Morning. It’s sexy, and feels and sounds like every one of Drake songs. So it’s cool and it is definitely a club banger, but for me it’s kind of lack luster comparatively to the lyrical content of the mixtape; I still get my pelvic wind on every time it comes on though!
J.Cole and Drake will probably have a similar or shared target market (i.e. why they’re currently on tour together), yet the collaboration, was probably also made to make J.Cole more commercially viable. His radio-friendly, mainstream tracks like Higher and Home For the Holidays are a bit weak, because he can’t do bubble gum or corny well. Songs like Blow Up or the previously mentioned You Got It, are stronger mainstream songs. He may end up developing his own style of radio singles, but radio is changing because of the web, so maybe this won’t even be a problem.
All and all, Friday Night Lights is strong and amazing effort, from some one who doesn’t have an album out. Somehow over 20 tracks, J.Cole holds your interest, and proves that he can cover all corners of Hip-Hop. Maybe that’s because he’s from the South, liked West coast music growing up, but got refined in NYC; or maybe it’s because he’s just so damn smart; I don’t know, but whatever it is, it works. In his Too Deep For the Intro, which is on a sped up version of Erykah Badu’s Didn’t Cha Know, he manages to introduce himself, bare his soul, and also talk about social issues. He does this all while asking if this is too much to discuss in an into; I thought it was perfect, and it sets the tone for the mixtape, vibe, and word play that is about to ensue.
J.Cole has been talking about a ‘dollar and dream’ since his first mixtape, The Come Up; I’m sure he has a couple of dollars now and that Dream is going to come into fruition in 2011. I’m looking forward to the official album, tentatively called Cole World this year. Ok, that’s enough already, give it a listen! It’s been out for 2 months, so hurry up and catch up.
****Check out pictures I took from the J.Cole show at Highline Ballroom in NYC back in December. Can I also say great performer! Look out for him; don’t say I didn’t tell you! Click here to see pics!