Mainstream hip-hop’s November to remember: J. Cole

While it may seem like every other piece of music released this November lives in Kanye West’s shadow, J. Cole’s most recent mixtape, “Friday Night Lights,” is garnering sunlight of its own.

J. Cole, the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation, started rapping when he was just 12-years-old.

Inspired by many of his generation’s most well-known rappers, such as Eminem and Nas, Cole was making his own beats and posting his songs and freestyles on the internet at 17-years-old under the moniker Therapist.

It was not until the release of his second mixtape in 2009 that J. Cole was discovered and signed to a record deal by Jay-Z as a talented new artist in the hip-hop game.

His exposure took flight in late 2009 after he was featured on Jay-Z’s album, “The Blueprint 3,” on the song “A Star Is Born.”

XXL Magazine then named J. Cole to their “Top Ten Freshmen of 2010” edition, where they ranked the top ten up-and-coming rappers in hip-hop in a given year, while Beyond Race Magazine listed him on their Top 50 Emerging Artists.

“Friday Night Lights,” which features artists such as Drake, Wale and Omen, is J. Cole’s third mixtape since 2007.

For fans of true hip-hop, Cole’s smooth sound and clever verses are sure to delight. His delivery is precisely on point, and like fellow artists such as Wale and Kanye West, his hooks boast a catchiness that will keep songs on the brain for days.

Surprisingly, the one track on the mixtape which seems to leave much to be desired is a collaboration with Drake called “In the Morning.”

While each rapper holds their own lyrically, the highly anticipated collaboration between the two artists is not as captivating as fans might have hoped. Drake made it clear, however, that this will not be their only chance to rhyme together, nor will it be their last chance to battle.

“Me and him will probably have many opportunities to rap and try and out-rap each other.” Drake said in an interview with MTV.

J. Cole’s debut LP, entitled “Cole World,” is set for a Dec. 2010 release date and will feature production credits by Jay-Z, No I.D. and Pharrell.

John Lopiano can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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