J. Cole is undoubtedly one of the biggest Hip Hop stars on the planet. Two gold status albums are under his belt, coupled with his most recent album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive which has been certified to reach platinum. With that, Cole became the first Hip Hop artist to go platinum in over 20 years with no features. Cole is paving his own way to the top, proving that you could be successful without mainstream radio tracks and features. Recently he joined the elite few individuals who has sold out Madison Square Garden in New York.
Jermaine Cole has been steadily building his core, die-hard fan-base ever since his 2007 release The Come Up. In 2009 he released his critically acclaimed follow up The Warm Up, which served as a holy sacrament to his loyal fans. Since then, he has released three studio albums, two more mixtapes, three EPs, and an abundance of forgotten gems.
Being the Cole Stan that I am, I have compiled the five Most Slept On Cole songs. These songs are the forgotten gems that have been lost in the sands of time and shadows of mainstream success. Most of these songs have a universal message of hope and “keeping your head up through the tough times.” Cole built his core fan-base on those morals, people were searching for truth and they found it in Jermaine Cole. Enjoy and reminisce.
1. Problems – Probably the most slept on Cole song ever. The track is from Mixtape For The Ville Pt 2 released in 2010. Cole has always been a man of the people and I don’t think there is a more relate-able song than this one. It showed that Cole is just like us and that he was the voice of the people we were searching for. In this track Cole talks about real life, everyday issues that he is facing including debt, poverty, corrupt cops, mainstream media, hypocrites, and critics. Cole opposes the people in power and their hypocritical ways. “Hey, Dear Mr. Policeman/Hey am I wrong, ain’t you suppose to keep the peace man/I coulda swore I was driving pretty peaceful/So why the hell is you pulling over me fo’”
2. Cheer Up – This song, Cole credits 2Pac as one of his main sources of inspiration and it is evident in this track. Cole uses a sample from Pac’s “I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto” and starts the second verse with a line from Pac’s hit song “Changes.” This track helped build the foundation of his die-hard fans by preaching his core message of hope and reliability.
In the first verse, Cole urges young women who are suffering from abusive relationships to not give up and keep their head up. The second verse starts with a direct nod to 2Pac’s: “I wake up in the morning and I ask my self/Is life worth living, should I blast myself?”
The same two key principles in “Cheer Up” are expressed in Pacs single; mainly feelings of doubt and hope. Later in the verse he reflects on his own personal struggles, especially his mothers drug addiction. Seeing his mother suffer turned his heart dark but his mother still has hope in him.
3. Show Me Something – In this track, Cole reflects on the issues that are plaguing him such as his absent father, brother getting in trouble with the law, his homies wasting their lives away gang banging, and the devil’s temptations. This self produced gem was released a week before his 2009 mixtape The Warm Up. This emotional, uplifting track paints a vivid picture of the atrocities Cole has witnessed in his hometown of Fayetteville. We witness the early blossoming of story-telling ability which became one of Cole’s calling cards. The artist pleads to God asking for answers, and based on his success, I would say God heard him.
4. Song For The Ville – This is Cole’s ode to his hometown Fayetteville, North Carolina. He reflects on the struggles he has faced and the things trying to hold him back from his dreams. No matter the negativity surrounding him, he shows resilience and hustles for his dreams. The “keep your head up” mentality evident in this track is a trait that resonated with his core fans and drew them towards him. The track is reminiscent of Cole’s own journey of leaving his small hometown in hope of achieving his dreams in the city of big lights.
5. Jodeci Freestyle – This is actually a Drake song featuring J Cole. I know that a song can’t be slept on if Drake is involved but this is definitely one of Cole’s best and most overlooked verses. An upcoming J Cole hopped on the same track as one of the biggest rap stars in the game and at the very least matched him if not out-shined him. Cole unleashes with extreme lyricism and wordplay including this gem; “Fuck your list you lame niggas and doubters/I’m undoubtedly the hottest and that’s just me bein’ modest/Go check the numbers dummy, that’s just me gettin’ started/I’m artistic, you niggas is autistic, retarded.”
Check out the tracks below and let me know if I missed any.