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Top 10 Best J. Cole Songs Of All Time

Counting down the best tracks in J.Cole's catalogue.

Jermaine Lamar Cole is a different breed. Ever since he signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation imprint in 2009, Cole has been solidifying his status as a new-school leader and a future legend in the game. Before releasing his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story, Jermaine dropped two classic mixtapes, The Warm Up, and Friday Night Lights. Cuts from the critically acclaimed mixtapes like “Lights Please,” “Too Deep For the Intro,” and “In the Morning,” helped launch Cole’s career from the relatively unknown town of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Cole was born in Germany as a military kid and was relocated to America by his mother after his father evaporated. At age 12, Cole was already flexing his skills on the mic, but being discovered in North Carolina didn’t seem like a realistic goal for the young wordsmith. After graduating high-school at the top of his class, Cole received a scholarship to St. John’s University in New York and relocated to the Big Apple to pursue both his degree and a career in rap music.

10. Dead Presidents II

Album:The Warm Up

This is the track you show non-believers. “Dead Presidents 2” appeared on The Warm Up. It was a follow up to his first attempt at rapping over the Jay-Z classic, which he was told was not up to par. To be honest, Cole’s first attempt at the instrumental was lukewarm, and the sequel absolutely destroys it. Packed with punchlines and metaphors for centuries, Cole used the negative review of his first attempt as a fuel to write the most lyrically potent track on The Warm Up. For decades, rappers have tried their luck on the Jay-Z track that planted the seeds for the epic Nas beef that would occur years later. It’s a trial and a testament for up-and-coming lyricists to murder this instrumental, and Cole does it better than anyone ever has. Possibly even Jay himself...

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9. Wet DreamzJ Cole at AE event

Album:2014 Forest Hills Drive

The concept for this single off 2014 Forest Hills Drive is brilliant. Cole takes his fans back to his high-school days. Before cell phones and Tinder completely demolished the dating game, nervously written love notes and well thought out poems were the best way to grab a girl’s attention in school. Hormones ablaze, Cole finds himself being invited to his first sexual encounter. He attempts to play it cool, while he internally panics and runs home to learn how to put on a condom while watching porn for instructional purposes. The entire song plays like a nostalgic love story, and it’s hard not to think about your first while listening to “Wet Dreamz.” Cole’s manager would later confirm that the story was fictional after fans expressed discontent with conflicting rhymes about Jermaine’s virginity.

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8. Grown Simba

Album:The Warm Up

“Grown Simba” opens with an eerie choir that drops into an infectious instrumental with more bounce than hydraulics. A young Cole raps about his aspirations to reach the top of the game, a goal that he would accomplish soon after releasing The Warm Up. Jermaine confidently dismisses drug-dealing, pimping, and balling as distractions to his overall goal to be king. Just like a young Simba, Cole has little patience, and wishes to sit on the throne at the first opportunity he gets. The hunger in his lyrics is apparent, and showcases Cole’s fluidity and intelligence on the mic before he gained mainstream success.

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7. G.O.M.D.

Album: 2014 Forest Hills Drive

“G.O.M.D.” is an interesting mix between arrogant braggadocio and genuine concern for the state of love. Cole enters “G.O.M.D.” as a narcissist, claiming that he’s ready to slaughter any competitor, adding that he strikes fear into his peers. By the second verse, Cole breaks down and reveals that he would rather go back to being Jermaine instead of living the life of a famous rapper. Torn between fame and love, Cole questions his childhood, where he never experienced true love until he meets an undisclosed woman. “G.O.M.D.” quickly veers off on a tangent about a tumultuous relationship that seems unrelated, until Cole brings it full circle and highlights ignorance as an enemy to love. The music video features Jermaine playing a house slave that frees the field slaves and stages a rebellion with the help of his slave master’s woman. Cole World.

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6. The Cut Off (feat. kiLL edward)

Album: KOD

The reoccurring theme of K.O.D. is the pain that makes people escape into addictive behavior. On "The Cut Off" Cole raps about an addiction of helping others. Cole laments that people constantly take advantage of him and use him. The fact that somebody he called a friend took his kindness for weakness, means that he's forced to remove them from his circle.The opposing character in the song who raps the first verse and chorus is Kill Edward. J Cole's alter ego is an addict that uses drugs and alcohol as his coping mechanism. He tries to manipulate the rapper, who wants to help him but Cole wises up to Kill Edward and ejects him from his life.Kill Edward was inspired by Cole's stepfather, Edward, who walked out on the family in 2003.

Listen Here: https://open.spotify.com/track/3rFF7kSm5qBOOPs6ljFgPp

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5. Forbidden Fruit feat. Kendrick Lamar

Album: Born Sinner

Before Cole was going platinum with no features, he placed his friend and competitor Kendrick Lamar on the chorus of "Forbidden Fruit." Cole samples “Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest, and reimagines the title as a Bible reference. Adam’s seduction by Eve, and their fall from grace, is the main theme of "Forbidden Fruit." Cole touches on his own sexual endeavors, as well as taking shots at other celebrities, like Mr. Cee who was caught soliciting sex from a cross-dressing man. Cole also throws a competitive jab at Kanye West, alluding to the fact that his fame had reached the heights of the Chicago MC. That’s boss. 

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4. Lost Ones

Emotional depth has always been Cole’s strength. The ability to tell stories that are replete with emotional conflict come easy to Jermaine, and “Lost Ones” might be one of the best examples of this fact. In the first verse, Cole raps from the perspective of a man who finds out his girl is pregnant. The man is suggesting an abortion, and claims that he doesn’t want to bring a life into this world without the means for proper support. After he states his case, Cole switches perspectives to the woman. Pregnant and infuriated with her man’s proposition, she compares her lover to his father, a dead-beat daddy. After a poignant second verse, Cole retreats to a position of neutral storytelling for his last verse. Possibly the realest song Cole ever wrote, even the chorus of “Lost Ones” stirs up feelings of distress.

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3. No Role Modelz

Album:2014 Forest Hills Drive

“No Role Modelz” features the most addicting instrumental of Cole’s career. The royal horns combined with Cole’s imposing flow creates an anthem for kings. As soon as Cole raps, “First thing’s first, rest in peace Uncle Phil, for real,” he captures the listener's attention with what is possiblythe illest shout-out since Kanye had Beyoncé’s back. Critics and fans have been divided on the overall message of the song, with some claiming that the lyrics are just as shallow as the song’s bridge proclaims Hollywood vixens are. Regardless, creating masterful polarizing music is a trait only the greatest artists exhibit, and this track is an example of Cole’s ability to craft classic records. Plus, Nia Long responded to Cole’s lyrics about her, claiming that “He’s not too young; he just doesn’t know it.” Nice.

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2. January 28th

On the intro track to J.Cole's 3rd Studio Album. Cole reminisces on the laid-back cut about some late friends as well as addressing his success and music industry politics. He ends the track by comparing himself to "the great Rakim" who was also born on January 28th - 17 years before the North Carolina rapper. He explains that the only rap gods were born on the titular date.

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1. BRACKETS

Album: KOD 

On this track Cole jumps on very chill melodic track with a hard hitting bass. Here, J. Cole details his journey climbing up the "tax brackets. Cole doesn't believe that his dollars are going to the prime targeted areas that should be receiving the benefit of the taxes. He believes that taxpayers and minorities should have more stake in how their wealth is used. While answering a series of fan questions on Twitter, Cole revealed his favorite lyrics on KOD come from this track.

  • One thing about the men that's controlling the pen
    That write history, they always seem to white-out they sins

Listen Here: https://open.spotify.com/track/6NyhBA9M6KK0fuVsojxL00

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So, what do y'all think? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comment section below
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