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The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Let’s not delete later

J Cole drops surprise album in midst of rap beef
Released on April 5th, J Cole’s fourth mixtape was a surprise release to everyone, however many knew something was coming.

Before I give a review of this album I think it’s important to provide a bit of context. Six months before this album was released, J Cole and Drake collaborated on the song “First Person Shooter.” On that song, Cole said “ Love when they argue the hardest MC, is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me? We the big three like we started a league, but right now, I feel like Muhammad Ali.” Nobody thought of the lyric until March 22, when Kendrick Lamar was featured on Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like that.” I have to paraphrase, but Kendrick saw problems with that line saying, “F the big three, it’s just big me.” That brings us to April 5, when J Cole randomly dropped this twelve song album.

The first song, “Pricey”, starts with a little chant that slowly crescendos. “****** you can try but this **** get pricey.” This feels like a shot to the rap game, and more specifically people who constantly ask Cole for his features. In “The London,” a Young Thug song released in May of 2019, Cole lays out how pricey things can get, saying “A verse from me is like 11 birds, I did the math it’s like 2000 dollars every word.” The 11 birds is equal to around 200,000 dollars, so 100 words from him will cost you. It’s a perfect reference for a perfect song title. With a smooth chorus about his upbringing, with Gucci Mane ending with a poem, and the final words of the song, “To believe or not to believe, that is the question, Might Delete Later.” It’s the perfect ending to a perfect intro song, and really sets the tone for this album.

The next song continues the serious tone portrayed in “Pricey,” as “Crocodile Tearz.” With a bagpipe instrumental that reminds you of the death of a soldier or police officer, Cole’s fiery tone matches perfectly with the deep bass drum. This is where we see a diss to Future, or “Pluto,” a nickname sometimes given to him. “They sound faded, they downgraded, they Pluto. I’m bigger than Mars, this ****** a star, I’m Bruno.” Obviously this is a mention of Future and his voice, which is very low, mumbled, or “faded.” The “downgraded” is obviously about how Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet, and comparing Future to that. On the flip, Cole says he is bigger than Mars, and a larger than life figure, and more popular than Bruno Mars, who is one of the most streamed artists in the world right now. With other lines about sharing women, and how Instagram plays a large role in the rap beef, this song does a great job of keeping with the tone of the project.

That mood has a slight shift with “Ready ‘24.” In this more upbeat song, but still this gang mentality, only amplified with the verse provided by Cam’ron. Cole goes on long rants on this song about how he doesn’t seem to really try at what he does, yet he can still find ways to get what you can’t, followed by Cam’ron explaining that people tend to stay away from the both of them for the same reason. Outside of an enthusiastic “YES!” At the beginning of the song, there’s not too much to look forward to. It’s a small bump in the road of what is a very solid album, to start at least.

Two of my favorite songs are up next, and back to back as well. “Hunting’ Wabbits” and “H.Y.B.,” are two incredible songs from start to finish. In “Huntin’ Wabbitz,” the unique samples create a mode of hunting season, and my guess is the “Wabbitz” in question would be other rappers, with the idea of them being children who need Looney Toons to understand what he is saying. The deeper voice Cole flourishes with this song, as constantly he alludes to wiping the competition, and doesn’t like people he views as his counterparts.

The mood once again shifts with “H.Y.B.,” however the switch is actually for the better. While I can’t say what the name of the song is, this entire song has a catchy beat, memorable lines, and a nice flow. Central Cee does a great job on this song, and at times it feels like a J Cole and Central Cee song could mesh seamlessly, but the two different genres of rap don’t mix. It combines to create a nice combo, unfortunately we won’t likely get any more of this combination.

The next song “Fever,” however this is one of the few skips I have. The song opens with a voicemail from a female, likely wanting to rekindle a relationship. It reminds me of “Hello,” off of 2014 Forest Hills Drive. I don’t really like that song either, as it reminds me too much of a pop song.

His next song, “Stickz N Stonez,” is a much slower paced, and almost a mumble rap song. I love the instrumentals, and when Cole doesn’t slur his words, actually provides good, in depth lyrics on how much J Cole just does not care about others.

Track eight, “Pi,” is another one of those songs that I really don’t enjoy. It’s a nice calm beat, but the freestyle done by Daylyt & Ab-Soul at the beginning just doesn’t sit well with me. It’s one of those you either love it or hate tracks. While the stray Cam Reddish caught was funny, J Cole talking about trans men felt really unnecessary. It also doesn’t help that this is the longest song on the album at over five minutes long.But again, it’s one of those songs where you either like it or not. 

“Stealth mode” changes the pace, and after a few duds, this song does a great job of bringing back the energy. One of those songs where the chorus is fun to listen to and if you know the words, is really fun to go along with. 

The mood instantly switches in “3001,” in an experimental effort. The voice filter at the beginning shows that this entire album is full of “throw away songs,” or songs where he didn’t feel like it was up to par or didn’t belong on an album or as a single. “3001” isn’t even a bad song, just different. Not even in a good way or a bad way, just different.

The mood really changes and slows in “Trae The Truth in Ibiza.” This is a great song, and what you want from a closing song. That is what this song was supposed to be at least. A chill song, talking about his upbringing. It’s not aggressive, it’s not over the top. While the flow is simple, it’s perfect that way. And as the outro says, “From the Come Up to the Fall Off, and even when we fall off, we don’t fall off.” All of this is to get fans ready for his final album, “The Fall Off.”

“Trae The Truth in Ibiza” is a great closing song, until it isn’t. In response to shots taken by Kendrick Lamar, the closer for this album is Cole’s “7 minute drill.” You can tell Cole didn’t want to diss Lamar, but he had to. Is it a good diss track? No, not really. However, as the one who accidentally fired the initial shot, his response is what he needed to do. Fire a few warning shots, but don’t go too deep. This isn’t his fight. This is Drake v. Kendrick. But the ending is what matters. “I’m fully loaded I can drop two classics right now, the Fall Off on the way.” 

If Cole is saying “The Fall Off” will be a classic, that would mean we will get one more album from him before his farewell from rap. And I think this album is the perfect way to segway into the retirement phase. I love this album, and all the symbolism throughout. I give it 4.5/5 stars.

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About the Contributor
Logan Moseley
Logan Moseley, Staff Reporter
This is Logan’s senior year and 4th year on staff. Last year he was the MWHS Wildcat News Broadcast Editor In Chief, Striv Executive Producer and one of the piloting students of the “High School Radio Project.” Moseley won 1st place in the NSAA Class A News Broadcast category, and placed in the Broadcast Feature category as well. Moseley worked with the President of the Nebraska Broadcasters Association, Jim Timm, on the HSRP, worked for the Corn Belt baseball summer league live streaming service, and was a PA for Millard North Legion Baseball. Moseley is a fan of the Los Angeles Rams and Nebraska Cornhuskers.

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