J Cole Compares 'Crooked Smile' to Tupac's 'Keep Ya Head Up' - Rolling Stone
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J Cole Compares ‘Crooked Smile’ to Tupac’s ‘Keep Ya Head Up’

J Cole

Mindy Small, FilmMagic

Mean-spirited online commenters, negative people and unsolicited advice givers, J. Cole has a song for you.

Actually, the North Carolina MC’s new record “Crooked Smile” is actually a word of support to the recipients of your unconstructive criticisms.

On the funky bass groove driven track highlighted with piano keys and violin effects, Jermaine Cole dismisses those who have made insulting comments about his crooked teeth.

J. Cole cuts to the chase on the song’s opening line, rapping, “They tell me I should fix my grill ‘cause I got money now. I ain’t gone sit around and front like I ain’t thought about it.” 

Instead of becoming defensive, J. Cole offers a relatable response: “My sh-t is crooked, look at how far I done got without it.”

The artist signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and Columbia Records, then uses his own experiences to encourage others to embrace their imperfections, rapping, “Baby girl you a star don’t let ‘em tell you you not.”

In an interview with Esteban Serrano on Fuse, he said the song’s empowering message is similar to the late Tupac Shakur’s “Keep Ya Head Up.”

He hopes his listeners are encouraged. “[I] tell other people to embrace their flaws too and not to be so caught up in the little things – your weight or your nose or your eyebrows or your smile or your hair. It’s like giving people power to embrace your flaws.”

The song receives an appropriate co-sign from TLC members Chilli and T-Boz, who lend vocals to the chorus.

Cole said it was a blessing to get one of the best selling girl groups of all time to join him on the record that has been compared to one of their staple hits “Unpretty.”

“They loved the song,” he told Fuse. “They loved the music I got T-Boz in L.A. to do her part. I got Chilli in Atlanta. Just incredible experience getting them there.”

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