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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cole Under Preasure Makes Diamonds
Its not so easy to find quality hip hop these days that has made it to mainstream success, but by some miracle, J. Cole has been able to breach that barrier and make the transition from mixtape rapper to mainstream artist. The Dollar and a Dream kid has been on his grind, and it looks like its about to pay off with Cole World: The Sideline Story.

There are...
Published on September 27, 2011 by Q. Pair

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad first album
Mr. Nice watch is my favorite cut! but there is also In the morning, work on me, a dollar and a dream
Published 15 months ago by Ed Sellers


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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cole Under Preasure Makes Diamonds, September 27, 2011
This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
Its not so easy to find quality hip hop these days that has made it to mainstream success, but by some miracle, J. Cole has been able to breach that barrier and make the transition from mixtape rapper to mainstream artist. The Dollar and a Dream kid has been on his grind, and it looks like its about to pay off with Cole World: The Sideline Story.

There are three major reasons to like J. Cole: Substance, lyrical versitility, and production. Cole goes against the grain of a majority of rappers coming out the south and strives for lyrical dominance in the game. That being said, this CD (as well as any other project he's put out) is heavy with material that is a far cry from the usual Blingidly-bling-bling bullcrap and materialistic infatuation that saturates this genre. Simply put, the man has something to say, and its worth listening to. Also, in the same fashion as Kanye West, J. Cole produces much of his own music, and is responsible for 15 of the total tracks on the CD.

As a whole, this is a very personal album, in the sense that J. Cole is not affraid to expose himself and tell his story as it really is. Much of his appeal comes from his songs being so down to earth and easy to relate to. You dont need rose tinted platinum framed shades to visualize the things he talks about. "Dollar And A Dream III," the opening track, is truly an epic song, painting a vivid mural on the walls of your mind of the struggles of being broke with little else but a dream and some hope. Cole continues to expose his soul to the world with "Breakdown" where he talks about his father's lack of presence in his life, his mother's drug addiction, and a 3rd person perspective of a man in jail with a woman at home who is struggling to stay faithful. Also worthy of note is the stand out track "Lost Ones" where Cole portrays a young couple talking about abortion, playing both roles in his rhymes and showing both sides of the argument in a gritty, true to life fashion truely strikes a cord with you, especially if you have been in that situation (this song implies that he has before). And with "Daddy's Little Girl" he recounts the exploits of a young woman with daddy issues, abtly reffering to her as "This is Sade mixed with some Shawty Lo/Hey Jezabelle why you up in everybody fo/you lost and looking for a savior, I aint Mario."

Although there is an abundance of deep material to enjoy, Cole isn't serious all the time. He still shows love to the ladies, and has no trouble expressing it. Tracks like "Cant Get Enough" and "Work Out," while kind of plain and uninspired, are still lyrically potent and are fun once they grow on you a bit. But songs like "Lights Please" where Cole talks about trying to put substance in his relationship with a girl, but he always ends up getting lost in the sexual aspect of it, tend to keep things down to earth. And "In The Morning feat. Drake" is a well done, very listenable track about getting some at the start of the day.

Although not every song on here is a highlight, there are still many good songs. Tracks like "Never Told" "God's Gift", "Rise and Shine", the Missy Elliot assisted "Nobody's Perfect", "Nothing Lasts Forever" only tip the iceburg. J. Cole manages to find himself a nice balance of story telling, reflecting on serious topics, showing off for the ladies, and braggadocios rapping to make his debut work well.

However, although Cole World: The Sideline Story is a great piece of work, it isn't without its flaws. Specifically, "Mr. Nice Watch feat. Jay-Z" and Who Dat". In the weeks leading up to the release, "Mr. Nice Watch" got so much hype built around it due to a pending verse from Jay-Z, which came at the last minute. With all the build up, you would have expected gold to flow from the speakers, but both artists come up short and underperformed on this bad attempt at a club hit. And "Who Dat" was ok, but I was disappointed to see it on the album, even as a bonus track. Also, while I admire J. Cole being versatile enough to both rap and produce, his production skills are not quite where they could be on this CD. He has a lot of potential, but his beats can be pretty basic and at times, boring. Personally, I like the beats he makes, but I know that's not gonna fly with the masses in the long run.

Overall, Cole World: The Sideline Story is a solid piece of work; a product of sweat, tears and relentless grind that has paid off. J. Cole is truly an underdog in the rap game but I enjoy watching his progress to the top. Definitely a solid 5/5.

SN: Because Amazon didn't load the track list for some reason, here it is:

Intro
Dollar And A Dream
Cant Get Enough feat. Trey Songz
Lights Please
Interlude
Sideline Story
Mr. Nice Watch
Cole World
In The Morning
Lost Ones
Nobody's Perfect feat. Missy Elliot
Never Told
Rise And Shine
God's Gift
Breakdown
Work Out
Nothing Lasts Forever
Daddy's Little Girl
Who Dat (Bonus)
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dollar AND A Dream, September 27, 2011
This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
My dude...it's been years since I've had a favorite hip-hop artist, years since I've written a review for an album, years since I've actually purchased a physical copy of a CD...so why J. Cole you ask? Simply put, I relate to him...you can tell he's got his head on straight, he's down to earth, he talks to the fans in a way that makes you know he appreciates you and is right there with you. He doesn't put himself above his fans, he's modest, he let's his music speak for itself.

From the Come Up, to the Warm Up, to the now Blow Up of his "official" career, this here debut album...It's been good watching you grow Cole, good watching you do what you love. You can tell you got a passion for the game, as I do, and you're going about it the right way, not getting big-headed, not losing everything that makes you, well you. Keep bringing meaningful lyrics that express yourself and touch on things that matter, that people can relate too...A lot of rappers lose that when they get signed and make it big...they start talking about everything they got or just about themselves. Yea, the dude's life has changed, but he still talks about issues that relate to all of us. That right there, is an artist I can respect and will be a fan of for a long time. And he does it in a creative lyrical way that tells a story from a different perspective...Many artists out there just don't have that anymore. Listen to tracks like "Lost Ones" and "God's Gift" and "Never Told" and tell me that's NOT REAL. Story-tellin' Cole. Cole World. Support, buy this album, follow your own dreams as he did, and have some good music to listen to while you're doing it. Nuff said.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars J. Cole!!, September 27, 2011
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This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
Hands down, one of the best freshman albums I've heard, and one of the best of 2011! J. Cole brings back hip hop with vivid story telling so fans can relate, while still providing quality singles. It may have some older songs from mixtapes, but who cares when Cole's been giving fans free quality music for years!? #ColeWorld no blanket!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great debut but just short of a classic, September 27, 2011
This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
Im not gonna lie I was waiting for the Cole World to come out since the start. When I first heard J Cole I had a good feeling about the future of the game. You can tell that even though hes still young he is a MC which is not too common today. His lyrics have graduated to a MC level which is a beautiful thing for the young generation since theres not too many young MC's on the semi-commercial tip. However since I gave him that I must rate the album as if I will rate a MC which means I give it 4 out of 5 stars. This is strictly my opinion. Nothing else. Not nockin Cole at all. I just didn't really see why 2 of the 16 tracks made the final cut. I know having Jay Z on your album is dope but he didn't really needed that with this project. If anything that song brought the album down a little. But I guess J Cole is loyal to his peoples and thats a good thing. However besides that overall the album is mad real, potent and inspiring. Everyone needs to won a copy somehow.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Debut Album, September 27, 2011
This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
This album is the best debut rap album I've heard since Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor. Definitely the best debut out of the new rappers (Wiz, B.o.B. etc..). Although it is great, it's not perfect. I don't really like the production on "Mr. Nice Watch" and "Cole World", these two songs will have to grow on me, but since the lyrics in both songs are good, I still listen to them sometimes. Besides the production on those two songs, honestly, the rest of the album (production and lyrically) is great from beginning to end, even with lights please and in the morning on it (which are two old songs from his mixtapes) because they fit the album very well (perfect placement on the album, sequence wise). If you are a fan of rappers with substance, story-telling in music, and great lyrics, then this is a must buy!! Well done Mr. Cole.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cole World Stays True..., September 28, 2011
This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
I have had the pleasure of listening to J. Cole for almost two years now (losing my balance was the first song I ever heard by him). I say it has been a pleasure because as a new, up and coming artist, not too many people know of him yet, but it is evident that Cole plans to change all of that. The best thing I appreciate about this album is that he stayed true to his style, versatility, and most importantly content. Cole continues to rap about material that has been lost among the current mainstream rap/hip-hop. Not to say that there is anythig wrong with the usual "swag-girls-money" songs because I enjoy those club joints too (Cole's versatility does enable him to do both). However, Cole's music brings a refreshing take that the music scene could really use in my opinion, and he is not the only artist out bringing this type of effort either (the future of mainstream hip-hop does not look as lost as it once did). I really enjoyed his use of strings and piano (which he has often used before), especially in the intro, interlude and ending track (Breakdown, which is my favorite cut on the album) because to me it unifies the whole album. I waited with all other Cole fans for over 1 year for his first official album to drop, and I will say it was definitely worth the wait (...but Friday Night Lights did help ease the frustration)!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply amazing, September 27, 2011
This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
Best freshman album I've ever heard. This man deserves it all. The album is very emotional my favorite song is nothing last forever...that song like many others on the album is sooooo deep
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars J.Cole "Cole World" CD, April 2, 2012
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This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
This CD is awesome. Not only does he have tunes for the radio he actually has great songs about love, life, and making your dreams come true even though the odds are stacked against you. He has great beats and a great flow. Very easy to understand and easy to relate too. Thanks J.Cole for being a new hip hop artist with your own style and talent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good debut studio album from a talented rapper and prolific lyricist, February 22, 2012
This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
"Cole World: The Sideline Story" is the debut studio album of rapper J Cole. J Cole has been acclaimed in the hip-hop world from his mixtapes and guest appearances on other artist's singles. After listening to this album twice, I can see what the hype is about. J Cole is a talented rapper and prolific lyricist. He has one of the better `flows' and delivery of today's rappers. He places emphasis on well-crafted lyricism. Unlike too many of today's (mainstream) hip-hop artists, J Cole often adds social consciences to his music and is seldom materialistic. It is also notable that Cole produced most of the songs himself. I have never heard any of his mixtape work. Some have said his mixtape work is slightly better than this "studio" album. If true, then the mixtapes must be excellent, because Cole shines on this album.

This album is J Cole's first attempt at achieving mainstream appeal. In doing so, the music is a middle ground between mainstream hip-hop and underground hip-hop. A lot of the aesthetics of underground hip-hop are there in the production, but polished and catchy enough for the mainstream. As the Rolling Stone review of the album stated, "Cole is brainier than most mainstream MCs but too flashy for the underground."

Most of the songs on the album are a good listen. "Can't Get Enough" and "Work Out" are the first two radio singles from the album. They are clearly made for the radio - they are less lyrical than some of the other songs, but they make good pop-rap singles. "Can't Get Enough" samples African music and "Work Out" refrains Paula Abdul's "Straight Up".

"Sideline Story" (the title track) is a reflection of J Cole's life as a poor black man has been transformed by newfound fame. "Nobody's Perfect" (featuring my favorite female rapper, Missy Elliott) deals with a troubled relationship. "Mr. Nice Watch" (featuring co-producer Jay-Z) is a stab at rapping over a dubstep beat. "Lost Ones" is the most socially conscience track. It tackles a girlfriend's decision of whether or whether not to have an abortion, and its implications on himself, girlfriend, and unborn fetus.

My only complaints about the album are that it does have some of the negative aspects that are common in popular hip-hop. It does occasionally refer to "hoes" and drug use. And the interludes are unnecessary.

J Cole will be known as one of the most talented MC's of this decade.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated!, January 28, 2012
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This review is from: Cole World: The Sideline Story (Audio CD)
This kid is seriously underrated, the album is sick and flows from beginning to end. Freshman debut classic in my opinion - I still listen to it constantly, definitely one of my favorite albums and gets at least one rotation daily.

I'd agree with others and say that the best songs from the album don't even get radio play. I'd also argue that the only song I had heard from this album on the radio could even be one of the weakest, if not the weakest, song in a stellar lineup. Can't wait to hear his next album to see what JCole has in store!
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Cole World: The Sideline Story
Cole World: The Sideline Story by J. Cole (Audio CD - 2011)
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