From the opening ivory tickles of THE WARM UP, it becomes pyrex clear that Jermaine Cole is a lucid dreamer; projecting visions of an ideal future into his daily reality with the aid of natural ability, faith and good old fashioned drive. The kid’s been getting the kind of attention usually reserved for mixtape veterans, MTV darlings and ring-tone rappers; not Johns Hopkins graduates coming out of Fayetteville, North Carolina. But J. Cole has an an ace in the hole, he’s the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s new Roc Nation label. The honor of upholding the ROC carries with it all the trappings and hyperbole of “next big thing” status, but you wouldn’t guess it after listening to Cole’s songs. Evidence comes early on “Welcome” when Cole spits, “I let these words flow out, like water from a spout, like rain from the clouds, brush the pain from the crowd, cause these words go deep, from my soul when I speak, then the flows hit the souls of all those that I reach.” These are not the words of a kid only after that paper –don’t get it twisted, he is after that paper–but he genuinely wants to be the best, and if this is just a Warm Up, there’s no telling how quickly he’ll get there.
J Cole-Losing My BalanceEven though “Losing My Balance” is the bonus track (#22!) on the album, it works as a great introduction to J. Cole. He begins with a warm verse warning women not to let men determine their value, a message buried beneath layers of bitterness and bridges burned, but the insight is still inspiring to see. After turning the magnifying glass on his hometown, Cole closes the song with the all too familiar tale of the girl that caught his eye, but in this case, it’s her mind that’s got him whipped.J Cole-Dollar & A Dream“Dollar and A Dream II” hits hard, line after line is punishing, and from the GUT with the gift.
“A n****s stock is rising like the NASDAQ, they say I’m the future yet I’m givin’ n****s flashbacks”
Oh, did I mention that the boy makes his own beats…AND HE’S GOT RESPECT FOR HIS ELDERS. Yes sir, J. Cole’s got soul, the kid must have ears on the inside because he flipped not one but two songs from Lee Field’s newest album into some real heady hip hop.