Cole World: The Sideline Story

Album Review of Cole World: The Sideline Story by J. Cole.

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Cole World: The Sideline Story

J. Cole

Cole World: The Sideline Story by J. Cole

Release Date: Sep 27, 2011
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Rap

73 Music Critic Score
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Cole World: The Sideline Story - Very Good, Based on 13 Critics

Rolling Stone - 100
Based on rating 5/5
100

"I've got the nerds rapping hard shit/Dummies rapping smart shit," boasts J. Cole on his major-label debut. Cole is brainier than most mainstream MCs but too flashy for the underground; he's equally at home flaunting success and sensitivity – his "from-the-heart shit," as he calls it. He's a technically superb rapper, packing these sleek, snappy, mostly self-produced tracks with dozens of great punch lines.

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NOW Magazine - 80
Based on rating 4/5
80

Since becoming the first signee to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label, J Cole has been positioned as feisty protege of the elder MC. That dynamic is felt all over his debut album - in the confidence and passion the 26-year-old brings to his music, but also in blunt between-song dialogue chronicling the setbacks he endured along the way. Major label politics aside, the more interesting theme is the responsibilities that come with relationships.

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AllMusic - 80
Based on rating 8/10
80

Anyone who encountered his numerous mixtapes can tell you that before his official debut landed, rapper/producer J. Cole had spent some time bringing the whole Drake, Wale, and Big Sean style to a more street level. It’s worth mentioning because Cole World: The Sideline Story has little of that debut desire to cross over, and while the multi-talented Cole is a skilled, interesting beat-maker in his own right, a superstar production would have certainly made this album more approachable.

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Entertainment Weekly - 79
Based on rating B+
79

Bigger names in hip-hop have released albums this year, but few trump this debut. Cole, who’s been studying under label head Jay-Z for two years, seems to have learned plenty. Cole World: The Sideline Story is a well-rounded effort, and deeper than most, offering cuts that tackle unplanned pregnancy (”Lost Ones”) and uncertain love (”Nobody’s Perfect”).

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Prefix Magazine - 75
Based on rating 7.5/10
75

J. Cole’s Cole World: The Sideline Story is one of, if not the most, highly anticipated hip-hop debuts of this year. In what’s become the rule for rap debuts, a lot of time has passed between J. Cole’s introduction and his official coming-out party. After becoming the first signee to Jay Z.

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PopMatters - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

J. Cole makes the obvious reference of him being LeBron James and Jay-Z, Michael Jordan. He could be considered one of the more talented MC’s to come in the game since Nas broke in 1994 with Illmatic. Although blessed with all the intangibles of a true MC, the Roc Nation rapper and Jay-Z protégé has literally sat on the sidelines of hip-hop for four years since he released his debut mixtape while the likes of Kanye West, Drake, and Lil Wayne etc have dominated the charts.

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PopMatters - 70
Based on rating 7/10
70

In terms of 2011’s most anticipated hip-hop releases, I’m not sure there was a bigger consensus pick than J. Cole’s Cole World. He had songs on previous mixtapes like “Lights Please” and “In the Morning” that appealed to the pop crowd, “Grown Simba” and the “Royal Flush” freestyle for hardcore heads, and stuff like “Losing My Balance” or the early version of “Lost Ones” that struck a chord with listeners who demanded a more conscious voice from their mainstream heroes.

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HipHopDX - 70
Based on rating 3.5/5
70

A cosign from Jay-Z doesn’t mean what it used to. There have definitely been protégés worse off than J. Cole, but in Roc-A-Fella’s heyday, artists like Beanie Sigel and Freeway were dropping Gold and Platinum-certified albums straight out the gate (based on their own talent and the reputation of their team). Despite a trio of solid mixtapes, a few magazine covers, and showstealing guest appearances alongside the likes of Black Star and Jay, Cole has still spent much of the last few years since his Roc Nation signing on the sidelines, relative to other rap newcomers.

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Pitchfork - 61
Based on rating 6.1/10
61

J. Cole is the kind of rapper who worries aloud, and frequently, if he's getting too deep for his own songs. A St. John's University magna cum laude graduate raised in poverty by a single mother, Cole distinguished himself in his early career as much through effort as talent. Over a string of ….

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Slant Magazine - 60
Based on rating 3.0/5
60

Easily the most anticipated rap debut since Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday, Cole World: The Sideline Story at last gives us a chance to see Roc Nation benchwarmer J. Cole step up to the plate. If the album doesn’t do quite enough to establish him as the star player Jay-Z clearly wants to add to his team’s roster, it still contains enough impressive moments to land it a full tier above recent debuts by Class of ‘11 rappers Wiz Khalifa and Big Sean.

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Consequence of Sound - 58
Based on rating C+
58

After a four-year string of name-making mixtapes and guest appearances, J. Cole’s debut album is finally here. The long-delayed Cole World: The Sideline Story is one of the most anticipated rap releases of late, and rightfully so: Cole has steadily proved himself to be an exciting and capable artist. The North Carolina-bred rapper/producer has clearly grown a lot since 2007, when he first started turning heads.

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XXL
Their review was positive

“Cole World, World Tour with no album,” J. Cole tweeted earlier this month. Such mobility should be a blessing. Not always, though.. Yes, in all of the obvious ways, what J. Cole has been achieving in the more than two years since he signed with Roc Nation and dropped his acclaimed mixtape, The ….

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BBC Music
Their review was generally favourable

The rising rapper’s debut showcases some astounding potential. Natalie Shaw 2011 In the space of two mixtapes, J. Cole has toured the world, attracted Jay-Z as his mentor and been hailed as the messiah, saviour, redeemer and more. And while hip hop doesn’t need saving, it’s certainly true that this man is a remarkably anti-contemporary prospect in relation to his peers.

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