As the Spring Concert approaches, a small number of students in the Boston College community have expressed hesitancy to buy tickets because they “don’t know who J. Cole and Wale are.” After we stopped laughing, we at Gavel Media compiled individual top 10 songs lists for both emcees. We start with the younger, newer face: J. Cole.
10. Back To The Topic (Freestyle) – Friday Night Lights
Before dropping Friday Night Lights, J. Cole put this freestyle out on the Internet to create buzz. Most emcees couldn’t produce a set of lyrics this clever given the time it would take to record an entire album.
9. Split You Up – The Come Up
Whether an ironic warning against infidelity, or a celebration of Tiger Woods-like sexual morality, “Split You Up” lingers in the listener’s mind long after The Come Up finishes, which is more than can be said for many of the other tracks on Cole’s unpolished debut.
8. Blow Up – Friday Night Lights
“Bitch, I’m about to blow up,” the Fayetteville, NC rapper declared back in November 2010. To many die-hard hip-hop fans, it felt like about time.
7. Lil Ghetto N**** – The Come Up
No track on Cole’s debut mixtape hints more at his potential than this lamentation of the impoverished conditions in which the emcee was raised. He also sings in a more-than-half-decent manner, something he apparently forgot how to do right after recording the track.
6. Can I Live – The Warm Up
Shortly after jacking the title of this song from a track on Jay-Z’s classic debut album, Reasonable Doubt, J. Cole was signed to Hova’s Roc Nation record label. Coincidence? Maybe. Justified? Certainly.
5. Premeditated Murder – Friday Night Lights
Between references to 9/11 and William Shakespeare, Cole explains how he came, saw, and conquered the rap game competition. The sorrowful backing music can only be attributed to Cole’s sorrow for those who haven’t recognized.
4. Too Deep For The Intro – Friday Night Lights
Cole finally realizes all the potential he hinted at on his first two mixtapes. One of the most intelligent rappers in hip-hop today, J. Cole titles his self-produced track ironically; it would be true for almost any collection released in 2010 except for FNL.
3. Lights Please – The Warm Up
Borrowed song titles aside, J. Cole’s record deal with Roc Nation can be entirely attributed to his masterful performance on “Lights Please.” The self-proclaimed Savior of Hip-Hop explores the very Christian theme of the struggle between the desires of the soul and the flesh. His insignia on the artwork for both Warm Up and FNL features both a halo and devil horns.
2. In The Morning (Feat. Drake) – Friday Night Lights
This song deserves inclusion in the top ten if only for being the sole collaboration (so far!) of the two best rappers since Lil’ Wayne. However, the track does more than live up to expectations. The simultaneously seductive and melancholy backbeat is the canvas for some of the best pick-up lines ever put on record. Cole earns props for being the first artist to avoid being upstaged on his own record by Drizzy (condolences to Jay-Z, Lil’ Wayne, Nicki Minaj and especially Birdman).
1. Who Dat – Single
Bitch, he got that flame. And twice as many views on this track as any other. One can only imagine how many he’ll rack up when (if?) he releases the next single from his as-of-yet-untitled debut album, due out this year.Photo courtesy of hip-hopkings.com