Album Review: J Cole-Cole World: The Side Line Story (2011)

November 17, 2011 4 min read


Scott Kebo is out latest edition to the Fifth Element Blog "Team". Look out for him to contribute a series of reviews and columns in the near future!

When we first started talking about Scott writing for us he submitted a few things he had done on his own recently. One of the them was a review for the J Cole album. The album has been out for a while now, but the review makes some great points and can act as a introduction to the style of Mr Scott Kebo. Peep:

Album Review: J Cole-Cole World: The Sideline Story

Predicting when and where greatness will erupt is among one of the many enigmas life has to offer. We have seen greatness spawn from the underdog rising from nothingness only to stealthily swipe the crown from complacent self proclaimed kings in the making and rightfully locking down the throne. However, not everybody is your Gilbert Arenas or Deron Williams. Sometimes you have the Kwame Brown circumstances where an athlete has the total package necessary to achieve superstardom and by default you have to pull out the Ray Ban's for an unavoidably bright forecasted future. Unfortunately as most of us know, looks can be very deceiving and what seems like a safe bet turns out to just be just another roll of the dice; ultimately resulting in not meeting the world's expectations. Okay, so even though it is strikingly redundant, I'm going to continue to beat a half dead horse already in the intensive care unit by making a parallel between hoops and the rap game.

J. Cole is your top candidate for "most likely to be a superstar" in the rap year book. As the first Roc Nation signee and stamp inherited cosign by none other than Jay-Z, Cole showcases a tightly woven flow injected with energy and emotion, blossoming production flair, a knack for how to structure/put a song together; versatility in a sense of getting intensely introspective and personal while also having the ability of tapping into the opposite end of the spectrum flaunting with the rest of the rap ego maniacs. With a loyal and expanding fan base crafted by consistent project releases in "The Come Up", "The Warm Up", "Friday Night Lights", etc.. Jermaine Cole is engineered for success and on September 27th he released his highly anticipated debut, "Cole World: The Sideline Story".

Elegant keys of a grand piano opens up the album creating a nostalgic ambience as Cole reminisce's about the day he was extracted off the sidelines and transformed into a major player. "Dollar and a Dream III" follows the intro, trailing in an epic fashion manifesting the trademark Cole vulnerability that reaches out to those in need of some type of connection. "Life at the bottom/Nobody but God got him" cries out the Fayetteville native as the beat change syncs up perfectly with these words to deliver a profound, heartfelt moment. On "Can't Get Enough" chemistry is not an issue when Trey Songz lends a dope hook to help reinforce J. Cole's female addiction. Jay-Z returns the favor on "Mr. Nice Watch" stealing the spotlight with his signature double time smooth delivery overshadowing Jermaine similarly to what happened on to him on his Blue Print 3 album cut "Star is Born." The highlight of the album on a performance standpoint is in "Lost Ones" where Cole paints a picture about the same situation but from 2 different perspectives in an emotionally gripping tale about teenage pregnancy. "Nobody's Perfect" attributed with a stellar vocal guest appearance by Missy Elliot is one of the best tracks on the album and has an amazing feel good vibe that just flat out knocks. "Rise And Shine" features Cole flexing his brag swag going in, but even in the midst of boasting he still keeps it real setting the record straight, "Jacket so expensive, you wouldn't even try on it/ But it fit me perfect, I purchase it if I want it/ The city on my shoulders so no girl you can't cry on it/ When you make a list of the greatest hey am I on it?/ Maybe not yet, but bitch I got the clock set."

Overall "The Sideline Story" is a very solid debut, but falls short of classic album status. It suffers from a lack of cohesiveness, not transitioning well from song to song or possessing a complete identity with a constant theme or direction. The majority of songs are strong and worthwhile , but however, they do not necessarily make sense together; more so on the lines of "Okay, so we picked 16 tracks we really like now let's just arrange them together and call it an album." The subject matter could use more diversity as a great deal of the songs felt like something we have already heard before, and in some cases literally ("Lights Please" and "In the Morning.") More fresh, thoughtful concept records like "Lost Ones" would have benefited the album. On the bright side, this will be an album you'll come back to with some moderately high replay value due to the openness and raw emotion that people can really feel and relate to. And so we finally arrive at the defining question. Did J. Cole solidify himself as a superstar in his rookie season? No, but he put up numbers that shows enough promise that we won't quite dismiss him yet. 4/5

Written By Scott Kebo

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.