2014 was a down year in rap that was saved by J.Cole. While many superstars delayed their album or fell short of expectations, J.Cole delivered. His third studio album had a unique rollout choice: No single push and no big collaborations. The album didn’t receive any big co-sign for Roc Nation head honcho Jay-Z before it's release, but still reached critical acclaim. Forest Hills Drive was Gold by its second week and hit platinum status in March 2015. The album was also the first album since 1989 to go platinum with no guest features.
So where is the love? Why wasn’t J.Cole on the cover of XXL or Fader?
J.Cole is known for being focused on his art. At times, I get the sense that mainstream media doesn’t hold him in the same light as his counterparts because he doesn’t make headlines as often in the news. Artists in today’s rap culture, are judged now more than ever based on things that have nothing to do with their skill set.
What scares me as a young journalist in the field is how out of tune the big shot callers are with today’s youth. How could you be unaware of J.Cole’s die hard fan base? It shocks me that we have seen artists who OPEN for J.Cole on his nationwide tour grace the cover of XXL and FADER before he has.
The saddest part is this guy has an amazing story. J.Cole is a kid from North Carolina, who went to college at St.John's in NYC to get an education and pursue his rap dream in the big city. He worked hard and put himself in position to link with Jay-Z. His amazing mixtape run led Jay-Z to sign him as the first big artist under his Roc Nation imprint. This guy in the rap world is the “American Dream.” It’s time for FADER and XXL to catch up and give Cole a cover.