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J. Cole (Finally) Turns in a Great R&B Guest Verse on Ty Dolla $ign’s ‘Purple Emoji’

Cole is an extremely good rapper with bad instincts when it comes to a certain kind of guest verse. Here, he shows that change is possible

For R&B stars, J. Cole is a risky feature. On the one hand, he’s a massive star, capable of introducing your song to a new audience while, hopefully, making it better. However, his contributions to the Rhythm and Blues pantheon so far are often questionable, a frequent mixture of horny nonsense and misjudged punchlines. Cole has compared the wait for sex to the plight of Browns fan, detailed the length of time of his orgasm and called his love a layaway service — and that’s just the Miguel collaborations. Those moments pale in comparison to his most infamous contribution to an R&B song, on Jeremih’s otherwise fantastic “Planez.” Four years later, we’re still trying to shake the image Cole forced into our heads when he boasted that his “Dick so big it’s like a foot is in yo mouth.”

Luckily, it seems the Fayetteville rapper has learned from this, as he turns in a genuinely charming verse on Ty Dolla $ign‘s “Purple Emoji.” Fatherhood has tamed Cole’s worst lyrical impulses (or, at least, dulled their edges). In the place of foot fetish bars is an endearing verse dedicated to Jermaine’s wife, the mother of his children. He agrees to never tell her about a potential murder he might commit, wishes for another son, and promises to keep all their devil emoji message when they’re 50. It’s sweet and wholesome, like the rest of the song.

In an interview with Zane Lowe, Ty shared that he showed Cole “Purple Emoji,” while working with Kanye West on his next album in New York.

“Cole was in the room right next to me,” Ty said. “When I saw him I was like, ‘Bro, I got something to play you’ and he’s like ‘I got something to play you.’ So I went to his studio and heard everything he was working on and then I’m like ‘Yo, I just did this one I thought would be crazy for both of us.’ So he came in my room, I played it for him immediately, and he did his verse, [in] less five minutes.”

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