J. Cole – “Cole World:  The Sideline Story” [Album Review]

The best thing about sitting on the sideline is the amount of knowledge one can pick up simply from observing the game and practicing with the greats.   Nobody relates to this saying better than Jermaine Cole.   The Warm Up  had the Carolina rapper’s  blood flowing as he prepared for the shine of the Friday Night Lights,  and that performance had us checking for him on Any Given Sunday.

Now 3 years later after signing with Jigga, the RocNation freshman gets his official start with the Cole World:  The Sideline Story; a 19 track autobiography that summarizes J. COLE’s come up from a young cub to a grown Simba.


J. COLE didn’t deviate too far from the same hustle and flow that got him to where he is now.  It’s riddled with witty punch lines, great production (11 tracks produced by himself), and crazy confidence.

What I particularly enjoy about the album is the rawness and openness of it.  The combination of Cole’s transparency and charisma will have you dancing in the club, sympathizing with the starving artist, and cheering for the dreamer by the time you reach the end of the disc.

Through his own life story he also touches on important issues within our communities today such as abortion, single parent homes, and the responsibilities it takes to be a man.

If you’re a fan of J. Cole then the album is everything you’d expect, just with a more personal and retail demeanor.  Sequence wise, The Sideline Story revolves around three main themes.    It flows fairly well in and out of celebration and reflection of Cole’s grind to success, his confidence in him rapping and pulling girls, and the obstacles he faced growing up with an absent father and struggling mother.

The Brian Kidd produced island crooner “Can’t Get Enough” features Trey Songz dragging his sex appeal over a brilliantly sampled  Balla et ses Balladins hook.  This single is already knocking in the clubs!  Trigga’s presence compliments Cole’s to a T, and the resulting hybrid of island hop definitely confirms they’ve got a hot single on their hands.

“Lost Ones”  finds J. Cole narrating the story of a young couple faced with an unexpected pregnancy. Over his own production, he spits as the mind of a man who isn’t ready for a child nor marriage, and as a young woman who yearns for companionship yet regrets her decision to have unprotected sex.  It is the most sincere and emotion filled track on the album

The Jay-Z assisted, dubstep-electronica influenced “Mr. Nice Watch”  should surely be Cole’s next single and video.  Although Cole originally wanted Jiggaman on God’s Gift,  I’m certain his placement on this track will take The Sideline Story and luxury watch sales that much further.

This too, is another track purely produced by J. Cole. The bars are as creative as they are visually compelling; especially Jay-Z’s mention of Maybach he reassembled for The Throne’s Otis video. “Nobody’s Perfect”  featuring Missy Elliot is another track already radio ready, and is sure to be heard in the clubs or in the next J. Cole fan’s car at a red light.

My only criticism of The Sideline Story is its  bi-polar in nature.  I’m glad J. Cole held his own without a long list of features, but I would’ve loved to have seen him display a little more sucker punch factor with the features he did have. Everyone knows he produced the smash “Hiiipower “ for Kendrick Lamar, and it would’ve been crazy if those two could’ve created some magic for this album.

Or if he would’ve worked with label mate Jay Electronica, or even put out a newer cut with  Drake.  made the album when that was long since heard on The Warm Up mixtape in 2009, and the L&X Music production “In The Morning” came out last fall when we’re already approaching fall of this year.  But that’s why it’s Cole’s World and not mine.

At the end of the game, The Sideline Story has more than enough content and showmanship to make you come back.  True fans of artistry will love it, the girls will dig it, and it’s always good to see somebody with a grind as hard as Cole’s get rewarded with his first retail album after years of touring and label stress.

Make sure you check out Cole live when he come to your city but until then, enjoy the full court press.