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J. Cole's 'Tears For ODB': Anthem For 'Forgotten Souls'

February 14, 2013 9:55 AM ET
J. Cole
J. Cole
Frazer Harrison/Getty

J. Cole’s “Tears For ODB” from his new Truly Yours mixtape is more than just a tribute to the late Wu-Tang Clan member who died of a drug overdose in 2004. “Tears” is a nod to anyone struggling to make it.

The Roc Nation/Columbia artist raps about having a father on drugs and growing up with a single mother. But he acknowledges that his purpose as an MC transcends simply entertaining.

“I’m here for more than to just kick some witty metaphors,” he raps over the moody, piano and booming kick drum track. “Dog, these more the type of sh-t you spit to set off wars.”

Cole, who compares himself to Robin Hood, offers his take social ills like the difficulty of buying a home (“The system meant to lock us out.”) and quitting the drug dealing game (“Yet I still peddle this dope and these pill …”).

The North Carolina-bred rapper is sick of dismissive rhetoric about turning your life around. “They say life is what you make it, but b-tch I’m just trying to make it,” he rhymes.

Cole argues that it will take more than just dreaming of being the next Jay-Z for one of the “forgotten souls” that have been “left for dead” to make it. But he’s optimistic.

Cole doesn’t believe that someone needs to sell his soul in order to find success. “I just think they found a better way,” he raps.

The 5-song mixtape is a teaser for his sophomore album, Born Sinner, slated for the spring. Cole says the new album will reflect his growth from his 2011 debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story.

“I appreciate you giving me the time I needed to grow, experiment, and find the direction for my 2nd album… And I have,” he wrote in a letter posted on his Dream Villain website.

Cole, who says he has recorded enough material for four albums, describes some of the songs as “important stories.”

Born Singer’s first single is due out this week.

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A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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