J. Cole is a soul minder, half rap’s primary fuel and half patron saint of the culture’s poetic pantheon. So many murders in music our griot’s don’t grow old, we study their early early works like mythological tales told, governed by overbearing mothers in fatherless households, shit at least we got Cole and a few mo’ to unpack backpack raps, put dents in their pretense and make sense of assailed souls.
Cole has lines more profoundly potent with a greater sense of poise; delivered purpose, than many artists entire careers – “Multi before I die, b!tch believe that / these rappers rich as fuck, but don’t know where they seeds at” – on his classic Winter Schemes, for example. The Dreamville imprint impresario also has tapes and EP’s – pick one, Truly Yours, The Warm Up, The Come Up, Friday Night Lights, Revenge of the Dreamers – capable of rivaling a record labels entire roster on their own merit without evening unboxing his actual albums.
Quick nod, salute, and shout out to the era’s best MC. Cole likely would have sought solace in the company of written-spitters who consciously cursed in cursive as he does, namely Makaveli, Hov, Esco, and Frank White. Back when Bad Boys on Death Row could semi Illmatically Roc a Felon, switch into a suit, hit the club, pull the baddest Nyong’o, and still remain allyship centered. Just as every saint has a past each sinner has a future, exception, soulless slaveship captains have no soul to be saved. So long as the pendulum is a 60’s Pontiac driven on super unleaded crude, rap is married to America with no prenup dude.