J. Cole’s success just affirms that the rap game is changing. No longer is hip hop ruled by the street lore of standing on the corner hustling and writing rhymes on brown bags before getting that big record deal. Where was J. Cole before he became the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s burgeoning label Roc Nation? On scholarship at St. John’s University, cracking the books and graduating with highest honors.

J. Cole

“Too Deep for the Intro”
Friday Night Lights

“Too Deep for the Intro,” the first song off J. Cole’s most recent mixtape Friday Night Lights, is more of his familiar blend of honor-student ruminations and open-diary anecdotes. Over a wonderfully chilled-out beat that samples the J Dilla-produced Erykah Badu track “Didn’t Cha Know,” he rhymes, “Should I admit that a slutty bitch was my first smash?” and then goes on to describe the episode in detail. The self-consciousness of the line (and the song in general) leaves him vulnerable, like any artist airing it all out for the sake of art. It’s the new generation of “keeping it real”: Share the truth, regardless of how revealing it is. While not the most lyrically impressive J. Cole track, “Too Deep” reaffirms his position as the hot up-and-comer.

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