J. Cole and the expansion of hip-hop to end the decade.
For the next few weeks, Amherst Wire’s entertainment offers you the best of the decade. To do my part in contributing to our end-of-decade content, I will highlight some of the rappers’ most important moments in the decade. The program will go as follows:
J. Cole ends the decade in style
J. Cole has probably had the best two years of his career so far to end the decade. After years of turning on the spotlight, Cole seemed to be in the center and more than ever.
In her fifth studio album “KOD”, Cole tackles all forms of addiction from social media addiction on “Photographs” to money addiction on “ATM”. With the demise of talented artists like Mac Miller in 2018 and Juice WRLD in 2019, the importance of an album against addictive substances in a genre that tends to glorify drug use cannot be underestimated. “FRIENDS” reads like a sincere letter from Cole as he tries to deal with the addictions of those closest to him and the black community as a whole.
“You are running to yourself and you are buying the product again
I know you say it helps and no, I’m not trying to offend
But I know that depression and drug addiction don’t come together
Reality distorts and then you get lost in the wind
And I saw the combo take the niggers off the deep end
One thing about your demons are bound to catch up someday
I’d rather see you get up and face them than run away
I understand that this message is not the most beautiful to say
But if you don’t try, I know a better way
Meditate “- J. Cole on” Friends “
“KOD” continued to break Drake Apple Music Record for flows in the first 24 hours of release.
But it wasn’t just Cole’s album that made his last 20 percent of the decade special, his guest verses in no time were anything to be surprised about. He paired Dreamville’s latest moneymaker, JID’s fast cadences on “Off Deez” in 2018. He went on tiptoe with over reputable rappers like Jay Rock and Royce from 5’9 “on their respective albums. But above all it’s it was Cole’s feature in “much” of 21 Savage in which Cole regards his host seat as a state of the game address.Everything from fake streams to 6ix9ine’s problems with the law is mentioned in the verse.
All these guest spots seemed to be a precursor to the highly ambitious project coming from J. Cole and Dreamville in 2019. Their mixtape “Revenge of the Dreamers III” was a show. After the label attracted the project by inviting all the greatest hip-hop artists today with gold tickets like Willy Wonka, it was realized that something special was coming.
The 18-song project encompasses spectacular moments as one of Da Baby’s most impressive verses to date on “Under the Sun” and the legend of Atlanta T. I team up with one of Atlanta’s most recent faces in JID, but the the artist who shines the most is J.Cole. Every track he touches on the tape seems powerful, whether it’s the Dreamville and Young Nudy group that cuts “Down Bad” or the touching “Sacrifices” outro in which Cole seems to write to his wife and mother of her children.
Cole had two busy years as a rapper, but he also took the time to do various things like an improvised interview with Lil Pump. It has had an important public presence also in events such as NBA All-Star Weekend. J. Cole’s stock is higher than it has ever been, which is incredible when contextualized in a decade full of platinum albums.
What is hip-hop in 2019 and not?
We are in strange times.
Jay-Z works for the NFL. Kanye West is making Gospel music. And Drake is whistled off stage in the middle of a set.
Platinum King Without Feature J. Cole is inviting anyone and everyone into his studio sessions. In the meantime, Kendrick Lamar is literally avoiding the spotlight.
Among all these quirks, there seems to be more pockets in hip-hop than ever. For those looking for more rooted hip-hop in traditional sounds, Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs has teamed up with legendary producer Madlib once again to create the contending album of the year which is “Bandana”. For those looking for more melodic trap streams, artists like Lil TJay, Rodie Rich and of course Young Thug. And artists like Meg the Stallion and Da Baby have quenched the thirst of fans in search of pure rap on rhythms to dance to. While these sharp corners of hip-hop remained structured in 2019, several pockets where the border between hip-hop and other fuzzy genres were also an important part of the sound of 2019.
Tyler, the latest album by the creator “IGOR”, which is not a hip-hop album according to Tyler but is nominated for the rap album of the year GRAMMY, covers rap and sings in the same way in a love story lgbtq ( and fallout), something this wasn’t really done commercially hip-hip for an entire album before. On songs like “I Think” Tyler floats effortlessly from rap to singing just for instrumentals that radiate beauty.
JPEGMAFIA’s “All My Heroes Are Cornballs” straddles the boundaries of hip-hop with its punk-rock-like prowess combined with distorted, almost unpredictable, but not entirely electronic instruments. In his self-produced album, JPEG juggles rapping, singing and screaming so well that labeling him only hip-hop seems like a disservice.
Among the many fluid genre music in the hip-hop sphere, no artist in 2019 drew attention as Lil Nas X. With his record hit “Old Town Road”, the catchy melody that went viral with the help Tick Tock blends together country music elements, such as his acoustic guitar champion and horse references, with hip-hop elements such as his snappy high hats and skinny reference. While the track was accepted in the hip-hop sphere, country music was less willing to accept it.
In March, the song was removed from Billboard’s country music charts because it didn’t “merit inclusion” in the genre. This, of course, leads to many debates about what can and cannot be labeled as country music. Lil Nas X pointed out that Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexhas both had songs on country music charts that used trap drums like “Old Town Road”, making Billboard’s decision much more distorted.
After the assistance of country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus, the debate seemed to have ended. The song was finally put back on the charts and was the number one song in the country for 17 weeks in a row. Lil Nas X also received a GRAMMY nomination for the album of the year for his genre-rich EP “7.”
With hip-hop bigger than ever, such boundaries will continue to expand only in the next decade. Expect “unnecessary debates of this kind?” More useless over time and artists become more experimental.