Photo: ROC NATION
J.Cole, in the weeks up until the release of his debut LP Cole World: The Sideline Story, has released a collection of tracks to keep his fans entertained. Speaking on Any Given Sunday, Cole Tweeted: “For the record, these are not mixtapes, not EP’s either. I wake up on Sunday’s and I decide what songs I want to let out or rerelease for yall. You’ve been so patient for 2 YEARS! I think you deserve some insight and unreleased music.”
TaleTela has a look at the handful of tracks and we give our take on what we think of them as a pre-cursor to the full LP....
Listening to the ten or so Any Given Sunday tracks released in the weeks running up to his debut LP release, is an experience that leaves a listener eager, yet curious to hear where the 26-year-old will direct his talent on the upcoming ‘Cole World: The Sideline Story’ released on September 27th.
On the first week of Any Given Sunday, the rapper put out five tracks, two of these were brand new, the other three were all released at one point or another. These tracks are different from the ones released on the other Sunday releases because these have a distinctly more old-skool vibe.
The way the songs are constructed and used herald back to a time way before the year 2011, you can tell detect the MC’s real influences on every track and it's a welcome take on Hip-Hop. Cole is relaxed, he is the boy next door – he is confident but not aggressively and still holds down the spitting – so much so that his delivery is the biggest star on the tracks.
‘How High’ is easy/smooth, and a luscious loop is the background as Cole spits: “Life is a movie, pick your own role/Climb your ladder, or you dig your own hole.” His observations are crisp and cleanly relayed – at times he reminds me of Lupe Fiasco, as Cole is generally detached and intellectual.
‘Like A Star’ is fresh, is a happy-go-lucky tune, which effectively uses a female vocal to pad out the dominant melodies that encase the whole of the first 'Sunday' edition. ‘Knock On Wood’ is the highlight here though, Cole spits quick, smart, dexterous lines over a simple quick beat and gives the impression Cole does not take much inspiration from current Hip-Hop. Nevertheless Cole is fresh and although the track ends too early he is successful in giving a taster of what he can do.
Any Given Sunday #2 included three new tracks, and the old skool sheen has been eased off of – but Cole has not. ‘Bring ‘Em In’ is more direct, more assertive yet the rapper is still somewhat casual and detached rapping about girls. His detachment doesn’t really hinder him as the hard metallic beat takes hold.
‘Be (Freestyle)’ is impressive and has that old skool sheen back, and although this cut comes close at times to sounding dated Cole keeps up his spitting and rides the beat confidently: “My shit is already fire, don’t gas it.” Melodies again play an integral role on this group on tracks, with a simple computer synth and piano riff successfully holding everything together towards the end.
After a few weeks of no new tracks Any Given Sunday #5 gave us two more cuts ‘Heavy’ and ‘Neverland.’ ‘Heavy’ is streamlined and very sharp Hip-Hop, Cole over the instalments has gone through a series of landscapes but remains a force lyrically. ‘Heavy’ can sound empty or unfinished production wise at times – and maybe could have used a vocal line or two more – but Cole is resolute spitting: “If money talks, mines telling yours to be seated.” The electro tinged track is short and wets the appetite, and strong enough as a standalone track to establish the MC as a force to be watched carefully.
‘Neverland’ starts off fairly scattered and sparse, it’s not as slick as 'Heavy' but as soon as Cole gets into it he is riding the chugging beat like a bronco: “My good girl say they wanna know their enemy/my bad girls say fuck all that – enter me.”
The rapper is yet to release his debut LP but can boast a wide and interested fan base all waiting on him to bring to next instalment of whatever is left to see in Cole World. It’s hard to deny the impact of this collection of Any Given Sunday songs – and they're not even official, so naturally the next question is can Cole World: The Sideline Story sustain the strength of these tracks? If so we may be looking at a modern classic.