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'4 Your Eyez Only' marks J. Cole's return after his triumphant LP two years ago; he is one of the leading writers of the new generation of MC's who pride themselves on technical ability, and in a genre where simplicity and a lack of any thought-provoking content have become overwhelmingly commonplace, the return of the Dreamville representative sent the hip-hop sphere into a frenzy. With a tracklist of only ten songs, the concise LP was an incredibly strong end to the year for Cole, and was a late contender for any self-respecting rap fan's album of the year.
Cole, half-sung, opens the LP by crooning "I see the rain pouring down, before my very eyes" on the brilliant 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', and this melodic, soulful approach runs for the duration of '4 Your Eyez Only'; the North Carolina lyricist's focus on mature, classy hip-hop is once again made clear from the first few minutes of the album, much like his revered '2014 Forest Hills Drive' project. The low, hard-hitting bass of 'Immortal' is matched with subtle vocals and textured production, and Cole's ability to switch between an aggressive, enthusiastic approach and a calm, collected presence makes his material diverse in both sound and in the audience it attracts.
'Deja Vu' is a sure-fire radio hit, complete with knocking drums, catchy hook and cheesy sample, but it is executed flawlessly; Cole's penchant for commercially viable material is unrivalled, but he never sacrifices his integrity or authenticity by churning out formulaic, simplified throwaways. The subtlety on 'She's Mine Pt. 1' makes it a highlight of the LP, and the restrained production and vocal performances from J. Cole are unique and instantly recognisable; with effortless cool and confidence he drops reflective introspection, and it results in an absorbing, encapsulating cut.
Continue reading: J. Cole - 4 Your Eyez Only Album Review
Along with 2016, as is the case with every twelve months that passes by, came the age-old complaints that 'hip-hop isn't the same' and that any progression or change is automatically a bad thing. UK based artists make up four of my Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums Of 2016, and Skepta has led a British invasion on American shores. High Focus representatives Dabbla and Ocean Wisdom are also pushing progressive and forward-thinking product on their exciting releases, and on the other end of the spectrum we find London MC PhybaOptikz delivering some of the silkiest boom bap of the year with his under-appreciated project. We also had a number of noteworthy comeback LP's, and some of the biggest names in rap music returned with projects that were as much noted for clickbait context as they were for the quality of the music; the quality was most definitely there though.
Skepta - Konnichiwa
One of the UK's most treasured MC's finally hit his deserved recognition with this year's LP 'Konnichiwa'. Grime is going global, and who better to serve as its overseas figurehead than Tottenham lyricist Skepta. With undisputable bangers like 'Man (Gang)', 'Shutdown' and 'That's Not Me' (all of which individually set YouTube alight with huge videos), big name collaborations such as Pharrell Williams, Young Lord and A$AP Nast along with an intense and polished sound, the album was an instant hit. People have been waiting for Skepta to deliver a consistent, hard-hitting project for years now, and 'Konnichiwa' did everything we hoped for and more. If you're as uncompromising as Skepta is on this album and even the Mercury panel are rooting for you, you've got to be doing something right.
Continue reading: Sam Bennett's Top Ten Albums Of 2016
After losing his childhood home due to foreclosure many years ago, the rap star has now bought it back and plans on letting single mothers live at the property rent-free.
J. Cole should receive a whole lot of admiration for the way he is giving back to his community. The 29-year-old rapper recently revealed his plans to let single mothers and their children live in his childhood home rent-free.
J. Cole will let single mothers live in his chilhood home rent-free
"My goal is to have that be a haven for families," Cole explained during an interview on the weekly podcast series 'The Combat Jack Show.' "Every two years a new family will come in, they live rent-free."
Continue reading: J. Cole Will Allow Single Mothers To Live In His Childhood Home For Free
J. Cole commands a lot of respect for being one of the few real and honest lyricists operating in mainstream hip hop. '2014 Forest Hills Drive' is his third album, and his growth and development is apparent from the instant you press play on the haunting and emotional introduction. Cole recently said that he doesn't care about reviews, good or bad, so I'm not sure he'll pay this much attention, but the North Carolina MC has produced a quality piece of work, with a diverse yet cohesive collection of thoughtful, mature and truthful hip hop.
J. Cole begins with 'January 28th', his birth date, and opens the album with lyrics about his early life as well as his thoughts on the recent incidents in America, alluding to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The lack of real content in much of the recent rap music is a concern, but Cole assures us from the outset that that is not a route he's going down. He follows this track with 'Wet Dreamz', which has an incredible beat produced by the man himself. J. Cole recounts his first sexual experience over soulful, crisp production, and the honest approach is something that works well, and is very endearing. He shows courage and a disregard for following the standard trends, and it's a much needed breath of fresh air. This continues with '03' Adolescence', where the 29 year old rapper demonstrates both his story-telling ability along with making clear his attitude towards the materialistic and indulging nature of much of mainstream hip hop in today's climate. 'Fire Squad' features another example of this honesty regarding his feelings towards the industry; Cole name-checks Eminem, Iggy Azalea, Macklemore and Justin Timberlake.
'G.O.M.D.' is one of the stand-outs from '2014 Forest Hills Drive', with a fantastic beat you can't help but vibe to, and with Cole demonstrating his radio-friendly ability to full potential, whilst remaining relevant, unique and engaging. Cole really demonstrates his production talents on this album, being at least partly responsible for 10 of the 13 tracks. 'No Role Modelz' is a dope track, Cole makes points about the lack of figureheads, incorporating a well-placed George Bush sample. 'Hello' showcases an effective combination of Cole's vocal ability and consistent flow, and this continues in 'Apparently'. 'Love Yourz' is yet another highlight, featuring Cole spitting confidently about his realizations in what's important in life. The closer, 'Note To Self', is a 14 minute long list of thank yous, closing the album off in Kanye style.
Continue reading: J. Cole - 2014 Forest Hills Drive Album Review
We hit the Minnesota music scene in the run-up to Jay-Z's new summer festival.
Budweiser Made In America Press Conference at Los Angeles City Hall on April 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California - Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Budweiser
Budweiser Made in America festival is on its way and, to celebrate, the beer brand unveil a series of music documentaries in different States: this week we explore Minnesota!
Being such a huge part of the world, America has always borne a massively diverse music ethos. In almost every part of the country you can come across a different musical culture and it's with this idea in mind that world famous rap star Jay-Z decided to create Budweiser Made in America festival. It's sole purpose is to bring together a choice selection of both up-and-coming and well-established artists spanning all genres including rock, hip hop, R&B, electronic, punk... the list goes on.
He doesn't want to be associated with his father but we probably wouldn't have heard Gabe Day's music otherwise.
Daniel Day-Lewis's son, Gabriel, has released a rap under the name Gabe Day, entitled 'Green Auras.' The single is accompanied by a music video in which we see Gabe, who looks a lot like his father, clad in a baseball cap and wooden Africa necklace singing about his experiences amongst a supporting cast of college buddies.
Daniel Day-Lewis' Son, Gabe, Ventures Into The Competitive World Of Rap.
Now he may look and seemingly act like Josh Peck's sincere stoner from The Wackness but hear Gabe Day out: his new single was produced by hip hop hitmaker J. Cole and the lyrics clearly came from the 18 year-old's heart as he assesses life under the shadow of his father's career and turning to marijuana after learning he was bipolar.
Is Lamar's new song a show of love or of force?
Kendrick Lamar is rising to the top and won’t let anybody stand in his way, the rapper has made that much clear by calling out a bunch of rappers on his latest track “Control (HOF)”. Actually, name dropped would be a more accurate description, because the list of… um… homeboys includes quite a few big names.
Lamar might have "mad love" for them...
In the new track, which you can listen to via NME, Lamar raps: "I'm usually homeboys with the same nigg*s I'm rhyming with/ But this is hip-hop and them niggas should know what time it is/ And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale, Pusha-T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Drake, Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller/ I got love for you all but I'm trying to murder you n****s".
The rapper welcomed Kanye West, Lil Wayne, TLC, J. Cole, Wale and more on stage in the two hour, sold-out show.
For the 16,000 fans who attended Drake's OVO Fest show in Toronto, the whole evening was full of perfect "I Was There" moments with appearances from the exalted lords and ladies of R&B and hiphop royalty.
With an acronym that stands for 'October's Very Own' (October referring to Drake's birth month), OVO Festival is an event that has seen success in recent years and looks to get even bigger still. Previous years have seen performances from Stevie Wonder, Snoop Lion, Eminem, Jay Z and Nicki Minaj but the Canadian rapper and organiser outdid himself at OVO Fest 2013.
Drake Put On A Great Show At OVO Fest.
Continue reading: Drake Stuns With Mind-Blowing OVO Fest Line-Up In Toronto
J Cole plans to educate himself on autism after facing criticism for an offensive lyric.
The bestselling American rapper J Cole says he plans to educate himself about people with autism after apologizing for an offensive lyric in his song 'Jodeci Freestyle.' The rapper, who became the first artist to sign to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label, has now removed the lyric which referred to his rivals as "autistic" and "retarded".
"I want to educate myself more on Autism, and I'll gladly own my mistake and serve as an example to today's generation that there's nothing cool about mean-spirited comments about someone with Autism.
"People with this disorder and their loved ones have to go through so much already, the last thing they need is to hear something as ignorant as what I said," J Cole wrote on his blog, DreamVillain.
Continue reading: J Cole To 'Educate' Himself On Autism After Apologizing For Lyric
The rapper apologizes profusely for his words in a recent freestyle
Most rappers would give anything to work with Drake right now, but for J Cole, the sacrifice was bigger than he first thought. Having blindly agreed to rap on 'Jodeci Freestyle,' his freestyle ended up offending some, but he’s since expressed contrition for his mistake and would like very much to just move on, according to MTV.
J. Cole in London
"In a recent verse on the song 'Jodeci Freestyle,' I said something highly offensive to people with Autism. Last week, when I first saw a comment from someone outraged about the lyric, I realized right away that what I said was wrong," Cole wrote in an apology letter to advocacy organization Autism Speaks. He posted the note on his Dreamvillian site on Sunday.
Continue reading: J. Cole Says Sorry For Autism Lyric On Drake Track
Date of birth
28th January, 1985
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@RzstProgramming @Eminem Damn wait til the internet find this
Whoa. Rap God. @Eminem thank you. Potentttt
@CedBreeze Preciate the info my dawg. I was wondering who kept takin my shit.
How could we not. https://t.co/78iYgX27Zw
Lute - West 1996 pt. 2 https://t.co/uU99kLBb2l Long time coming @lute_west9 NC shit, thank you. We hear you and we feel you.
Ima stop it there. Peace and love to all, let's give energy to the solutions not the problem. Even if you don't rock with mine.
Thank you Colin for your sacrifice.
This may be the biggest opportunity we have ever been presented to come together and show the world and ourselves our true economic power.
So when I think about it like that it's very easy on Sunday to say, "Nope, I'm straight."
Some of us got grandparents that walked miles to work instead of riding bus, just to show the bus companies that they won't tolerate racism
It was hard during preseason and the first week. But then I was like, wait, is it actually hard?
I respect whatever you decide to do. Watch or don't watch, whatever's in your heart. But I'm not watching til it feel right.
Thats when the magic happens. And sadly, in this capitalistic world we live in, that's when your voice is heard. When you hurt the pockets.
Repeat this with another company, and another.
"You know what, I don't think I can spend my money with you no more until you fix this."
"If not, why are you spending all this money with a League that clearly condones that? ... "
Pick one of the biggest ones and say, "do you agree with black balling players when they speak out against oppression?"