http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/24b2b80dedf32b0ac10e4ff214e28cf7338f974a.jpg Cole World: The Sideline Story

J. Cole

Cole World: The Sideline Story

Roc Nation
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
September 27, 2011

"I've got the nerds rapping hard shit/Dummies rapping smart shit," boasts J. Cole on his major-label debut. Cole is brainier than most mainstream MCs but too flashy for the underground; he's equally at home flaunting success and sensitivity – his "from-the-heart shit," as he calls it. He's a technically superb rapper, packing these sleek, snappy, mostly self-produced tracks with dozens of great punch lines. ("Got the game in a headlock/I'm blasting that/I'm laughing at/You old niggas/Redd Foxx.") But while he tries to wring pathos out of everything from career struggles to unplanned pregnancies, the melodrama feels rote; the rhymes hit the mark but the stories leave you cold. If he evens out the ratio of from-the-heart shit to smart shit, Cole could be great. 

Listen to "Mr. Nice Watch" feat. Jay-Z:

Rapper J. Cole Debuts Fierce First Album at New York Listening Party

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    Lou Reed | 1972

    Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

    More Song Stories entries »