Given that J. Cole was signed to Roc Nation by Jay-Z following the release of his 2007 mixtape The Come Up, you could say we’ve been waiting a long time for the North Carolina MC’s debut album. So how did making Cole World: The Sideline Story differ from the way J. crafted the material we’ve already heard over the years? “It’s all the same, ’cause I don’t make mixtapes like mixtapes,” he told us. “My mixtapes just happen to be songs that I make for the album that I feel like I can part ways with because I have other material. I’m just blessed to have a lot of material like that.” Head below to learn enter Cole’s World.
ALBUM: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Roc Nation/Columbia), the first LP from the rapper.
RELEASE DATE: September 27.
ALBUM PRODUCERS: No I.D., Danja and J. Cole himself. The Roc Nation rapper talked to us about hitting the studio with BET Hip-Hop Award-nominated No I.D.: “I learned a lot just from watching him and the things he told me. I want to be good as I can when it comes to a producer. Before him I had some good ideas and I had some great beats, but he taught me how to take that sound to the next level. So I learned a lot from him.”
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE LP: “An emotional rollercoaster,” J. Cole said when we asked him to describe the tracks on his debut album. “Strong emotions. I wanted to do things the best. So if I had a super emotional record that’s supposed to touch your heart, I wanted to do the things to really make you cry when you hear it. Or if I was doing a party song or a fun song, I really wanted to do it the best and really have you feel like you’re really jamming for real. Or, you know, if I was riding in the car, doing a rap record, I really wanted to go hard and do everything to the fullest extent. I don’t wanna have anything half-ass on the album.”
J. (short for Jermaine) also explained that Cole World will be different from his mixtape Friday Night Lights, which is also nominated for a BET Hip-Hop Award:
“Cole World is a little more personal, it gets a little more emotional and it’s just straight to the point. So Friday Night Lights and The Warm-Up were a little long. I listened to them the other day and it started off real incredibly. But by the time you get to the end, it’s so long that you can’t even really appreciate some of the songs that are really good at the end, like ‘Farewell’ or ‘Love Me Not’. You can’t really appreciate them the way you would if it was maybe four or five songs shorter. So I think this album is sequenced perfectly. I don’t really think you have time to get bored. It really feels like a movie, a story that you’re following it. Every song is back to back to back.”
TOUR PLANS: After trekking around earlier this year as an opener for both Drake and Rihanna, J. Cole is currently underway with his own Cole World…World Tour, which made a stop in Miami last night and carries on to Houston on September 14. “It’s just a blessing not even having an album out and even being able to book a world tour,” he said. “And having people who want to see me in Norway and Sweden and Berlin and Amsterdam and all these wild places.”
We also asked if he picked up any tips while touring as a warm-up act for Drake and Ri Ri. “I just learned that big records is how you get to that level,” Cole noted. “They got big records. That’s why Rihanna can go kill overseas at what she does, or that’s why Drake can kill overseas.”
OUR THOUGHTS: J. Cole’s three mixtapes were big hits, and he kept the heat on (and the interest up) by dropping his Any Given Sunday jams over the summer. Plus, given that his debut album is four years in the making, we’re guessing that Cole World will come out of the gate like a bull, given the rapper’s built-in fan base.
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