THE IMPORTANCE AND POTENTIAL OF J. COLE’S SINGLE ‘MISS AMERICA’
It’s fair to say J Cole’s debut had fans divided about whether he was the artist to define a generation like a Nas or a Jay-Z. For some fans the Trey Songz features and recycled songs from previous mixtapes (In The Morning, Lights Please) led to a feeling of deceit.
The album was a disappointment, but had enough in it to make me believe that he was playing the game to change the game (Cole’s own words). Songs such as Lost Ones, Breakdown, Sideline Story and organic hits such as Nobody is Perfect and Gods Gift illustrated the enormous talent of J. Cole.
The album felt like Cole was looking to evolve his sound from his previous mixtapes, but couldn’t pull it off in time for the album. Along with the excellent and flawless mixtape Friday Night Lights, which ultimately overshadowed the album itself, and sent expectations of the album sky high,
Scared to be boxed in by his own sound, he looked to commercial pastures to show the people he can make hits.
When in fact he could of went the route that Kendrick had done so recently with Good Kid M.A.A.D City. Perhaps in hindsight Cole could of taken the time and honed his own unique sound, but perhaps the label pressure led Cole to pursue a path some of his core fans now lament him for.
That being said, the new single Miss America has strengthened my view that Cole’s first album was in fact him ‘playing the game to change the game’. Here we have Cole spitting over aggressive production, in contrast to I’m A Fool which had a soulful sound to it.
Speaking to a few people, who were indifferent to the beat choice, preferring him to spit over sample heavy soulful production. But they’ve missed the bigger picture, which is the message Cole is expressing, and how the choice of beat perfectly reflects that sentiment.
The beat is in harmony with Cole’s hunger to demonstrate to the world he is ready to deliver. This song should not be met with a negative reaction but one of optimism, as this is the Cole we need.
The lyrics cover a range of topics from social commentary, to the industry and to his inner fight to stay true to what he feels is real. The last theme mentioned is the one that resonated and drew people towards J Cole; his honest assessment of himself (2face, Farewell, Too Deep For The Intro).
He is clearly aware what impact his debut album had on himself musically and he is ready to take that step that will send him to the upper echelons of music in general.
In a recent interview with Billboard, he announced that he’d rather fail, making songs like Miss America, which he hopes, will affect the culture, than merely following trends, which he could also do and still be rich. This should be music to the ears for J. Coles core fan base.
In Miss America, Cole touches on the album Cole World: Sideline Story, emphasis on making an impact on the charts, rather than solely being about the artistry. ‘Bumpin’ my shit, always wondered why they fuck with my shit I hope it’s ‘bout the knowledge, not about who’s suckin’ my dick’.
Cole is aware that people will only see his Workout or Can’t Get Enough’ songs, but hopes that he dropped enough gems on the album for his core fan base to not lose faith in him. Yet Cole isn’t regretting the path he choose ‘blood on my sneakers, no remorse for the grievers’ instead Cole is confident the strategy was necessary for his next step.
The fact that Cole has chosen Miss America as the single to promote his upcoming album (Born Sinner) speaks volumes. It shows that he isn’t concerned with crafting a chart topper or a radio song (‘And they’ll never play this song on the radio’) but hopefully Cole’s ready to live up to his word and change the game. Kendrick did it, now we need Cole to follow suit.
Stand out Lyric
‘Am I about dollars or about change? Am I about knowledge or about brains? Freedom or big chains, they don’t feel my pain’