Back on February 12, J. Cole dropped Truly Yours—a collection of free songs he described as being “in their raw form, no polish…just a lot of my soul,” as a way to thank his fans for their patience. Now, with just under two months before his sophomore album, Born Sinner drops, Cole returns with another half dozen free tracks.
The threat of being sued for raiding Bobbi Humphrey’s catalogue was enough to make Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y slap a barcode on the terribly mediocre Live In Concert. It took an out of court settlement for Lord Finesse and Mac Miller to see eye-to-eye over a sample used on what was technically a free mixtape. Those seem to be a new reality Cole is also well aware of, as he opens up the EP with “Cole Summer,” rhyming, “This sample was yelling loop me / Ms. Hill, please don’t sue me / ‘Cause I ain’t one of these rappers out here frontin’ like he got it / Nigga, I ain’t fuckin’ got it nigga…”
It combines the penchant J. Cole has established for heartfelt rhymes with some tongue-in-cheek humor over Lauryn Hill’s “Nothing Even Matters,” as he points out the limitations of his newfound success by noting that the stacks of thousands Drake throws away in the strip club eclipse his. What can we say? Third world rapper problems are still in effect, and Cole isn’t above poking fun at himself.
In yet another example of just how fast Hip Hop moves in the Internet/Social Media Age, producer Canei Finch took to Twitter about a day before Truly Yours 2 dropped to reveal that a sample of “Hurt” by The Manhattans powers “Kenny Lofton.” The Young Jeezy feature makes this the second time in recent memory Snowman has been paired with another vulnerable emcee over one of Fench’s Soul samples. Given the reception of Kendrick Lamar’s “Westside, Right On Time,” why mess with a successful formula? This one works just as well, with Cole supplying sports-based double entendres that reference ‘90’s NBA combo guard (and current sneaker-head cult hero) Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and the track’s namesake, Kenny Lofton.
The radio pandering singles versus heartfelt stream of consciousness dynamic that played itself out on Cole World: The Sideline Story seems to be resolved this go round on both “Head Bussa” and “Chris Tucker.” While 2 Chainz one-ups Cole by being his usual, hilariously ratchet self on the latter, both tracks display the balance J. Cole seeks without sounding forced.
Naturally, all of this begs the question of just how much consideration we should give another collection of freebies this close to J. Cole’s proper sophomore effort. If you’ve ever paid for an EP or a maxi-single, then you’ve essentially already answered your own question. As for Cole’s assertion that, “this right here is not a preview of what the album gone bring you,” we can only measure these high-quality cutting room floor scraps against an official offering like “Power Trip” and wait until June 25. In the meantime, both casual fans and Cole Stans alike can package these six songs with the first Truly Yours and have something that competes with a lot of albums in the marketplace.
DX Consensus: "Free Album" (the highest possible praise for a mixtape)