J Cole – Cole World: A Sideline Story
In 2008, Jay-Z partnered with Live Nation to launch a record label called Roc Nation. The next year Roc Nation would sign its first act: J. Cole. Cole immediately began making noise in hip-hop with the release of a mixtape The Warm Up, and guest features on both Jay-Z’s and Wale’s albums. In 2010 he broke into the mainstream with a song titled “Who Dat” produced by Cole himself. In relation to the line “I got that flame,” which is repeated throughout the chorus of the song, the music video finds Cole walking down a street as objects would explode or ignite as he walked past them. The song was supposed to be the first single off of Cole’s debut album and received a decent amount of radio play. However, the album took longer than expected to be released and Cole decided to remove the single from his debut and begin promotion again once the album was ready. In June 2011, more than a year after the release of “Who Dat,” Cole unveiled “Work Out,” also produced by Cole, which borrowed heavy influence from Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.”
The video for “Work Out” depicted Cole playing basketball, meeting a girl and ultimately going to a party with her. The single grew in popularity fairly slowly but by the release of Cole’s debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story, it was steadily climbing up the charts. “Work Out” peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 200 and number ten on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Chart and sold more than one million singles through iTunes and other digital distributers. Just days away from his album’s release, Cole unveiled another single titled “Can’t Get Enough” featuring Trey Songz and produced by Brian Kidd. In the video, scenes of Cole performing his verses on a rocky beach are spliced between scenes of him partying on a boat. “Can’t Get Enough” would go on to become even more popular than “Work Out,” peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Chart.
Cole World: The Sideline Story was released on September 27, 2011 and was met with mostly positive reviews. Cole limited the number of guest features on the album to allow for fans to get a thorough introduction of his art. Though the album’s singles were extremely lighthearted, many of the album’s tracks covered dark content. “Lost Ones” in particular finds Cole trying to convince a girl to have an abortion. The song is without question one of the album’s standout tracks. Of the album’s sixteen tracks, Cole produced twelve of them himself. He also raps alongside Jay-Z on “Mr. Nice Watch,” an upbeat braggadocio anthem that would go on to receive moderate airplay on hip-hop radio stations. Cole World: The Sideline Story was the number one selling album the week of its release and by the end of the 2011 year, ithad sold more than 500,000 copies in the United States, earning Gold status.
The influence of Cole’s debut album stretched into the following year. In 2012, while hard at work on his sophomore set, Cole released a video for the song “Nobody’s Perfect” featuring Missy Elliot. Though the single would not become as popular as its predecessors, it serves its purpose keeping Cole in rotation until his follow-up album is complete. With a debut as strong as Cole World: The Sideline Story, fans await the next project anxiously.