Label: Roc Nation/Columbia
Saving grace: "Lost Ones"
Clunker: "Workout"Don't get the wrong impression: J. Cole's Cole World: A Sideline Story was not a bad album at all. It was a commercial success and it had some pretty great cuts on it. But like Drake says, "Good ain't good enough." Especially if your J. Cole, an artist who is competing with the likes of Drake and Kendrick Lamar and who dreams of being the same conversation as a Nas or a Jay Z one day. Is that an unfair standard? Absolutely. But hey, like Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility."
For all of Cole's well-publicized quest for a single, his debut had it's share of big songs, but it ultimately lacked the lyrical heavy hitters that made his mixtapes so excellent. On top of that, three of the best songs on the album were old news as they were lifted from those aforementioned mixtapes. In the end, Nas wasn't the only person Cole let down.—Max Goldberg