About a year ago, Joey Bada$$ released All-Amerikkkan Badass, his second studio album that explains the oppressed, fatigued, and hungry souls of black people in America. It was around the same time Donald Trump went into office, when Kaepernick was taking a knee, and for the hip hop heads – when Logic dropped Everybody. But the reason why I bring up this pivotal time period in America and Joey’s album is because after its release, J. Cole said he wouldn’t be doing features after his verse on “Legendary“, the 11th song on the opus.
As the biggest Cole fan, I was shocked and also in disbelief considering the guy is the antithesis of a false prophet. His involvement in the community also reinforced my disbelief; his time in Ferguson and his Eyez documentary proved his voice is necessary year round.
He’s known for going ghost after dropping an album. For instance after 2014 Forest Hills Drive, his lone major follow-up feature was with Jeremih on “Planes“. But we were in a different time back then. We had Obama in Office and the activists weren’t as prominent as they are today. So after dropping 4 Your Eyez Only, there was more reason for Cole, as the socially conscious person he is, to be in the booth.
After his claim he took to spit two verses on “Come Through And Chill” – a record off Miguel’s War & Leisure album which was really just meant as a song for sensual seduction. Cole takes it a step further and integrates how the troubled world is preventing him from simply chilling with his girl; a theme we heard in “Lights Please“. At this time I wasn’t too skeptical and thought that Miguel and Cole’s history of R&B records, along with the troubled times, could have been the reason why Jermaine decided to drop just one more track following Joey’s release. But it didn’t stop.
Hip Hop went crazy once Jeezy’s tracklist for his album Pressure (released December 2017) went online. Instagram users flooded the comments section with the number 12, which correlated with the track “American Dream” that followed “featuring J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar”. It became the first official song with hip hop’s most prominent long-lasting, never-released-their-collaborative-album duo since “Forbidden Fruits“. As told by the title, Jeezy, Cole, and Dot use four minutes to talk about American politics.
Then came February 2018. His prodigy and Dreamville signee Cozz dropped his sophomore album Effected, which once again, channels the Jermaine who enjoys materializing verses mixing love and politics on “Zendaya“. Though this time he’s not taking shots at Trump, but speaking to the kids and their consistencies with Xanax:
Let’s begin to be the men we never seen
In the 80’s they smoke crack but now today they sippin’ lean
And poppin’ Xannies
Fuck niggas runnin’ from their families
The streets don’t give a fuck about the Grammys
Now it’s March 2018 and J. Cole is back again with another feature. This time he’s on “Boblo Boat” by Royce da 5’9″. The only difference this time is that he’s not talking about politics. Rather this record recalls Royce and Jermaine’s teenage years when only two things mattered: having fun and getting pussy on the Boblo Boat.
So why does it really matter if Cole makes appearances on songs or not? For the person who isn’t deeply into hip hop, it doesn’t. But for the hip hop heads, people in need of nostalgia, people needing a reminder of what love feels like, people who talk political and need some food for thought; Cole is definitely needed on more songs.
At this point he’s likely never going to keep his word on halting his guest verses. I think he’s come to realize that his voice, his thoughts, and presence is necessary for the world. I’m not putting him on the pedestal as the world’s lone forsaken savior who needs to be around to make everyone feel better. I’d like to think of him as the older brother with a shit ton of wisdom that you can learn from with every word he’s spoken.