J. Cole - Truly Yours (Track by Track Album Review)
Earlier this week the elusive yet renowned emcee J. Cole dropped a collection of songs called Truly Yours. Truly Yours simply suggests that Jermaine presented five songs to remind us that he is still relevant and working on new material. J. Cole details the growth process with this fan dedicated letter:
I appreciate you giving me the time I needed to grow, experiment, and find the direction for my 2nd album.. And I have. Along the way I’ve recorded at least 4 albums worth of material, lots of it being unfinished demo versions waiting to be polished up, some of them are great songs and important stories that just won’t make the album (either they don’t fit Sonically, don’t fit Theme, or there’s just not enough space) .
Tonight, I want to give you a few of these songs because you deserve them. It’s hard as f*ck for me to keep all this music from you for so long, so I know it’s been hard for you to wait. Thank you for your patience. Vibe out to these songs in their raw form, no polish.. just a lot of my soul..
The wait is over.
Fans have been clamoring for J. Cole to be more active on Social Media platforms (Cole is known to disappear from Social Media for extensive periods). I love this approach. It actually shows that Cole is working on perfecting his craft. A lot of artists feel like they have to share everything with their audience, J. Cole would rather work than waste time.
I decided to review Truly Yours because this project is truly a gift from an evolving and maturing artist. You can listen to the project while you read the review. Thank you for your time.
Can I Holla At Ya? - "Can I Holla At Ya?" is an introspective track where J. Cole reminisces about a special lady that seemed to get away (first verse). The second verse appears to be directed towards his step father as evidenced by these lyrics, "Thirteen years knew you more then my real pops/ Put me on to 'Pac, and all the rappers that killed cops." J. Cole is always brutally honest with his rhymes. The charismatic emcee states that he "won't be satisfied until we throw hands," in reference to disgust over the way his step father treated his mother. The third verse appears to be directed towards a former friend that could not escape his past. J. Cole surprisingly raps, "we was homies, now you call me by my rap name."
I love the utilization of the "To Zion" instrumental from Lauryn Hill's first album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Crunch Time - J. Cole passionately rhymes about the struggle associated with changing one's circumstance. I believe that Cole wrote this song from a struggling rapper perspective as evidenced by the stellar second verse. Cole addresses some industry ills suggesting that people aren't downloading and record labels aren't hollaring. "Only thing worse than death is a regret-filled coffin," J. Cole raps, empowering the audience to travel and experience life before death. This is definitely a song that targets the dreamers.
Rise Above - "Rise Above" is another track that allows Cole to showcase his story telling prowess. Jermaine examines the relationship between a woman and her boyfriend. We learn that the boyfriend was creeping with Yolanda. Towards the end of the verse we also learn that the woman will confront the boyfriend and the daughter will witness it.
The second verse highlights a struggling college graduate that teaches 7th Grade. The recent graduate seems frustrated with the current mindset of the youth and the parents that raise the children. Cole cleverly suggests that the woman drinks to cope with the pain associated with attending school. J. Cole concludes the track with these lines: "Cause ain’t no hope for the youth, well ain’t that the truth/ When all your role models either rappin’ or they hoop."
Tears for ODB - "Tears for ODB" is my favorite track off of Truly Yours. Cole does what he does best on this track and I can definitely relate to his transparency. I gravitate towards Cole's honesty. J. Cole channels that Born Sinner content with these lines: "I was sent from Heaven with a set of horns, they’d better warn y’all/ I’m here for more than just to kick some witty metaphors, dog."
The second verse continues that dreamer mentality as Cole raps, "But yet I still peddle this dope and these pills/ I’ll never know how sittin’ comfy on that Oprah seat feels/ More than likely be on Most Wanted posters, we still/ Holdin’ on to old dreams of bein’ Hova, be real."
The progression of J-Cole's production is what I appreciate the most.
Stay (2009) - I know many of you recognize the beat from Nas's Life Is Good album. Originally No I.D. gave this beat to Cole (who sat on it...).
Anywho, J. Cole dropping that introspective heat again on the first verse with these bars: "You can drop a “Wet Floor” sign down for the tears/ God and my court date, the two things I fear." The first verse shifts from the lifestyle of Frank Abagnale to the lifestyle of Hugh Hefner.
The second verse appears to be penned with Fayetteville in mind. J. Cole suggests that he won't "sit around another year" and "the hardest part of leavin’ is to know my mother’s here." The previous line probably hints at life on the road (touring) or travelling to finish the album.
Truly Yours is a presentation of five songs that showcase the Cole that we love and respect. J. Cole presents a project that is void of studio tricks, a project that is dedicated to us the fans. I believe that Born Sinner will exceed our expectations (production will sound better, rhyming will be more passionate, songwriting will be excellent). Born Sinner coming soon, check out "Power Trip".
What impressed you the most about Truly Yours?