Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I just finished watching J. Cole's new video for "Who Dat," the latest song and possible album-set-up-single from the Roc Nation artist. Cole, a Fayetteville native who reps his city and North Carolina harder than anyone since Petey Pablo, has had a strong and ever-building buzz for a year now since releasing his acclaimed mixtape The Warm Up, which came after he was the first artist Jay-Z signed to the newly minted Roc Nation. And let's not forget that Jay-Z gave Cole a guest spot on "A Star Is Born" on last year's classic, The Blueprint 3.

The video for "Who Dat" is surprisingly good. Surprisingly because the song is what the industry considers a warm-up single or street single, meaning it's something to get current fans excited and potential fans interested, before the "big" single is released. And songs like "Who Dat" usually don't get much of a video budget from the record label, but Cole pulls it off in the clip that's listed as "shot by BBGUN." The setting is a gritty, industrial-looking area in Fayetteville, of course. And throughout, Cole is flanked by an army of people shouting "who dat," which includes cheerleaders and a marching band. Even the small explosions and trails of fire seem to work, when they could easily come across cheesy. Cole is sending the message that he's hot and blazing a trail.

See the video below. Warning: It contains explicit lyrics. If you'd like to see the clean version, click here.

In other news from Cole World, he's currently in contention in MTV's "Hottest Breakthrough MCs of 2010" contest, in which you can vote until July 16. He faces strong competition as one of 20 candidates, which include Nicki Minaj, Big Sean, Jay Electronica, and Donnis. In fact, I expect those four plus Cole to be the top-five vote-getters, which means they would be featured on the "Sucker Free Summit" awards show July 25.

Okay, so now to my criticism of Cole. First off, I'm a fan. I had The Warm Up in rotation for months last year, which is more than I can say for many artists' albums these days (and this, remember, is a mixtape). Cole is a great lyricist who knows how to go beyond punchlines to deliver both thought-provoking songs and catchy hooks. But he curses too damn much! It's not what you would expect from someone with his lyrical ability--leave that to the Southern rappers who don't have your vast vocabulary. Some of his profanity actually distracts from his songs. I would hate to think that he thinks that a foul mouth will give him an edge to separate him from all the Drake comparisons he gets, which he's not too fond of. So J. Cole, do us a favor and clean it up a little. I know this is rap music, the genre that led to the creation of the Parental Advisory label on albums, but don't feel the need to dumb down your talent. You're the same guy who on The Warm Up said: "Tell haters go to rehab. Kick rocks." Genius.

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