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“This J. Cole Guy is Really Sticking in My Craw”

Rolling Stone published a pretty interesting story yesterday, which pertained to J. Cole speaking out against his own fans. Now, normally, obviously, rappers are happy to have fans and pleased with any attention and adulation that they get. This circumstance, on the part of them, was really no different — it involved a “meme” [1] they employed with great frequency on social media which read, “Platinum with no features,” [2] which is a phrase the rapper would use around the middle of this decade to brag that he doesn’t need guest appearances and can make successful albums with complete independence. J. Cole was apparently tired of seeing the meme and of his fans emphasizing it as the main point about him, threatening then to do “features” and ergo nullify the meme’s weight of point.
And J. Cole is really da** popular. I found that out the hard way yesterday when I called him a Drake ripoff [3] and spawned a veritable explosion of animosity.
I mean, the guy has loyal fervent fans. One guy (who looked like he wrassles wild boars in his back yard, mind you) attempted to insult me by saying “You look like the kind of guy who would prefer Drake to J. Cole.” So it’s an even deeper issue than musical entertainment. It’s like a CULTURAL thing. It’s personal, like a Beatles/Elvis dichotomy in the Pulp Fiction outtakes or whatever.
I think my comment plus my later replies on the same thread prompted approximately 37 or so replies from others [4], all condemning me for hating on J. Cole. Now, from an artistic standpoint, one problematic thing about all of these defensive comments is that in none of them did the Facebook participants actually EMPLOY any of J. Cole’s lines or diction, to make their point. It was all generic. They were saying that J. Cole has “content.” What, like as opposed to when an orangutan raps? Could you explain this rapper not having “content” phenomenon to me? I’m a little new to it. They were accusing me of having never heard J. Cole. It’s like yeah, I dissed on J. Cole without ever having heard him [5].
He seemed to have the same style as Drake, an opinion which obviously wasn’t met by everybody else, but I figured what the he** I’ll give him another listen and maybe his sh** will hit me a little more. I actually wasn’t a huge fan of Kanye on College Dropout, then finding Late Registration to be a dominant classic of pantheon status.
I have to admit I found a couple of songs listenable, Cole’s delivery seemed hard and rugged ENOUGH to get by, like an Andre 3000 without the flow or sense of humor, but again, it’s the CONTENT (there’s that word again) I have an issue with. The content is the problem.
Like Wu-Tang would talk about getting with chicks but they’d be FUNNY about it, with Raekwon saying things like “Her tits was bananas” or Ghostface pleading “Your girlfriend / C’mere / Oh sh** / You my man’s niece”. Now, the much-maligned Wu-Tang line “Fu**in’ thousand dollar lesbians stands as an interesting bisector here. No, I’m not a fan of that line and when I see critics lauding the Wu for getting more “organic” on The W and Iron Flag I’m fully on board with that. But when you’ve heard this processed, suffocating brand of “success” coming from this J. Cole dude [6], this describing in grotesque detail a girl “working out” [7] for him, it makes you wonder if that hyperbolic level of braggadocio isn’t better for the very point of there actually being SOME FESTIVITY TO IT WHATSOEVER. And I mean if this girl is doing that for J. Cole, just in general, what is the point of writing a song about it, and how is that going to unite underprivileged black people, and if uniting underprivileged black people isn’t the point of hip-hop then can somebody please spray it with a Pathfinder-sized can of Raid and end this lolly-gagging already.
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[1] For anyone who doesn’t know a meme is a usually humorous worded picture used on the website Facebook for entertainment purposes, usually to make a point hyperbolically in some way or another.
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[2] I didn’t want to get ideological in the first paragraph but this “features” word is really clumsy terminology — the rapper means to “collabos,” or “collaborations,” as would manifest in actual hip-hop diction, guest appearances on songs which would then garner the phrase “featuring so and so” in the title.
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[3] Please allow me to explain my reasoning here: up until Drake, most rappers had either a very unique style, were violence-oriented, or “gangsta,” or else had a sense of humor, sometimes toting at least two of these (Eminem, Clipse), having all three being rare although certain emcees is Wu-Tang like Ghostface Killah certainly vie for the crown. Mystikal pulls it off on “Make ‘em Say Ugh.” Drake doesn’t have ANY. We forgave him. Why? He had a great, fluid delivery, the beats were sick and everything he said was real, plus he seemed to have a gentle heart and be human, giving punctilious little anecdotes like “I see way too many people here that I didn’t know last year”. There’s a certain unstated power in that “knowing.” J. Cole also has none of the aforementioned attributes, has a voice that to be honest I can’t tell apart from Drake’s, has the same good-ol’-boy fake Southern drawl, but perhaps most importantly, takes on the same habit of Drake of just blatantly telling us about successes in his personal life with absolutely no flair, no sense of humor, no artistic innovation, no APPROACH, to put it simply, the worse in his case since he’s more indulgent and there’s less of that innocence, that nervous introversion that truly fuels not only the most vital art, but really any art, insofar as it’s to be a product of some meditation, distinctive individualism, and true “self,” which it da** well better be or there’s a hoax going on.
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[4] Amusingly the only black input I got was this indestructible looking mothafu**a agreeing in laughter that none of the comments were black… J. Cole is dark-skinned but was born in German and attended an expensive out-of-state university, as it were.
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[5] You’ll kindly note that I’m like never a ’90s-loving sarcastic bastard at all in these posts.
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[6] One dude on Facebook made the comment that “Everybody’s going through something,” which of course makes struggle all the less special or notable as to stand in a rap song, while it’s at it.
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[7] Um, “Work out” is Cole’s LEAD SINGLE, the first one off his debut album Cole World which DEBUTED at #1, yes that’s right, his DEBUT album DEBUTED at number one on the charts and this song is literally an appalling pop urinal mint about a girl objectifying herself in front of you and exciting your sexual instincts. I mean, what if I’m not that bit** doing that? What exactly is the point of me then listening to that song? To make matters worse, he goes on to spew about inanities like expensive cars and general shows of opulence, the type of thing real rappers hate. And yet these fans still have the nerve to pass Cole off as some “conscious” rapper, attempting to demarcate him favorably against Drake. I think it’s entirely appearance-based. J. Cole has bigger, scruffy hair, and doesn’t look like he could be a stock broker, similar to Post Malone in this regard (who is also incidentally a money-loving massive tool box), and so oh, he’s EDGIER automatically and anybody who likes the other guy is an establishment square. Ironically, the reality is exactly the opposite.

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