Despite garnering some good street and tweet acclaim with three mixtapes coupled the allure of being signed to a somewhat egotistic RocNation and hence having the license to go all out getting work done on the album, the album is pure J. Cole with ample contributions in vocals from Trey Songz (don’t go “oh Trey” with dreamy eyes on me woman ), Drake (surprisingly), Jay-Z (expectedly but…) and Missy Elliott as well as in production from No I. D., The University and Brian Kidd.
Yes, Cole produced or had a hand in the production of all but three of the 15 songs and two skits on the album and he’s not a bad producer at all with ‘Mr. Nice Watch’, ‘Cole World’, ‘Rise and Shine’, Breakdown and ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ his best effort going at the beats in my opinion.
Most of the rest though (which he alone produced) are just basic stuff and while understanding him trying to present himself as he best sees so, it wouldn’t have hurt putting just a few more producers on the album and Dewaun Porter wouldn’t have been a bad idea in this aspect as I feel he can relate with how Cole wants to portray his sound.
It is what it is though and it makes for good listening in the end. Started listening and I tell you I was shocked at a point to see I’d listened to 13 tracks without once thinking “can this song end already” and that sums up the album really, as being one likely to not attain the surreal greatness of his mentor’s Blueprint but certainly well above material from a Chamillionaire, Drake, The Game and T.I. I dare say.
On the part of lyrics, I’ll start with the low point. Dude made sure we understand that it’s alright for a nigga to cry sometimes… ok! Otherwise, it was about sexual innuendos (a whole lot actually), a few subs, some reflection and the usual “I’m the future”, “the rest are wack” lyrics. His delivery is on point though, doing well to adjust his tone to the mood of the lyrics.
Lines in the album that got me include:
“And the game full of liars it turns out that I’m the truth/They say rap’s alive it turns out that I’m the proof/cos the ones y’all thought would save the day can’t even tie my boots… let these words be my bullets nigga, I don’t rhyme I shoot” – Rise and Shine
“Armed and ready, you niggas strung out, you spaghetti! Your paper confetti! Small time, y’all on one I’m on mine…” – Dollar and A Dream III
“See when you’re spitting so real… suddenly these phoney niggas lose their appeal” – Cole World
“Money was an issue but now that that’s solved… I ball… I ball… like Kobe in the fall!” – Cole World
“I think they scared of me… and they should be” – Cole World
“This is a bigger picture and you can’t photoshop me out… not cos my looks, cos my hooks can knock Rocky out!” – Sideline Story
“Little do they know I came up to take advantage of the shit they take for granted” – Sideline Story
“Nice guy I just got a mean flow/never seemed rich but he seemed poor” – Dollar and A Dream III
“But that’s how good your ass is/made an old man get his glasses/made Wesley pay his taxes…” – Can’t Get Enough
As for which I consider my favourite on this album, it’d be the ‘Interlude’ where he talks about getting to know Jay-Z’s interested in signing him only to get pulled over “10 seconds” later by the Police. Good life lesson there and he handled that little matter pretty well, “it was the easiest night in jail it could ever be.” Knowing full well what was coming for him, a deal with Jay-Z.
But that’s an interlude, so I’d settle for Cole World, the beat and lyrics (all him) were on point and upbeat. Mr. Nice Watch comes a close second simply because of the deviation in sound and theme that I feel Cole handled well while Jay-Z (of course) went with perfectly.
Didn’t mention ‘Lost Ones’ in the above, because it’s been out quite a while now though it deserves to be on the album but I’m a bit surprised to see ‘In the Morning’ on the album. Cole though felt the song didn’t get the push it deserved and wanted it to reach more people.
You’d think the song was about something a whole lot more than morning sex! Hence, if ‘In the Morning’ could make the album ‘Disgusting’, with those beats and cocky verses, definitely should have a place on the album too but it didn’t.
Jay-Z (expectedly but…) – he was almost not going to appear on the album and mastering on ‘Mr. Nice Watch’ was redone after the song had been mastered without Jay-Z on it initially. Cole also would have preferred his mentor appearing on ‘God’s Gift’ but at that point, his appearance on any other song was just fine, thank you.
Drake (surprisingly) – simply because of the age of the song, nothing to do with Drake.
2. Dollar and a Dream III
3. Can’t Get Enough (ft. T. Songz)
4. Lights Please
6. Sideline Story
7. Mr. Nice Watch (ft. Jay-Z)
8. Cole World
9. In the Morning (ft. Drake)
10. Lost Ones
11. Nobody’s Perfect (ft. M. Elliott)
12. Never Told
13. Rise and Shine
14. God’s Gift
16. Nothing Lasts Forever
17. Daddy’s Little Girl
18. Work Out
19. Cheer Up
20. Who Dat