Inducting J. Cole into the mainstream hip hop realm just might be the very first step that mainstream hip hop has taken in the right direction in a very long time. Naysayers, hear me out.
The 29-year-old rapper has been out of the spotlight for the past couple of years, but this year Jermaine Lamarr Cole has stepped his game up in a big way. Not only did J. Cole just release a refreshingly honest new album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, he also showed the hip hop community that – hey, big time rap stars are still capable of having opinions about social issues that affect the communities that they come from.
Cole demonstrated that by showing up in Ferguson the week that Michael Brown was shot to walk amongst the devastated protestors, by showing up for the announcement of the Darren Wilson verdict, and then by joining the masses in New York City to march with peaceful protestors fighting against the unjust verdict of Eric Garner’s murderer. This is a big deal. An artist of JC’s stature, with millions and millions of fans, doesn’t generally just show up in the streets of a small town and march alongside their supporters.
While other artists are out here charging die-hard fans hundreds of dollars to see them in concert, J.Cole is showing up in his fans’ living rooms giving them private listening parties; he’s inviting his fans to his childhood home to celebrate the work that he’s done for them; he’s marching alongside them in the streets of St. Louis and New York to show them that he still is one of them. J.Cole seems to have evolved as both an artist and a human being, and in an industry that’s littered in shallow vanities and cold hearts, this is a very inspiring thing to see.
Recently, J. Cole released the new video for his single “Apparently”, a song about an honest look back at his life and how he has come to terms with his past. The video features a casual J. Cole standing in front of a screen featuring home movies of his mother and himself as a child. No scantily dressed women, no parties, no drugs, no alcohol, no bling…just Cole. Clap for him.
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You can also stream his new album below: