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Following the release of J. Cole's new song "Snow on tha Bluff," the rapper addressed a volley of criticism and said he stands by the lyrics on the track. Cole also urged his fans to follow Noname, whom many have assumed the song is addressing. In May, Noname called out "top selling rappers" staying silent as protests sparked by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and more continued.
Now several artists are taking Cole's track and its message to task. Chance the Rapper, who has collaborated with both Noname and Cole, tweeted, "Yet another L for men masking patriarchy and gaslighting as constructive criticism." He answered a tweet of the "c’mon bro" variety by saying both rappers are "my peoples but only one of them put out a whole song talking about the other needs to reconsider their tone and attitude in order to save the world. It's not constructive and undermines all the work Noname has done. It's not [black women's] job to spoon feed us. We grown."
Earl Sweatshirt was among the first artists to respond to the situation. "Multiple truths baby lets go this aint even complicated," he tweeted, before explaining his thoughts further. "Lol before I get grouped in to anything let me state that first truth of many is that the shit was just corny... It would b like on one of the nights following big floyds death if a white rapper (one that ppl like) made a 'im uneducated on ur plight' track it just taste bad lol."
Earl then named Cole directly, writing, "what if yall are mad at yourselves that you look to cole for more than he has to give? bro just laid his cards down on the table 'i went to college, i dont know stuff' and hes alot of n***as elected representative."
Many have accused Cole of policing Noname's tone on the song. "I scrolled through her timeline in these wild times, and I started to read/She mad at these crackers, she mad at these capitalists, mad at these murder police," he raps on the track. "She mad at my n***as, she mad at our ignorance, she wear her heart on her sleeve/She mad at celebrities, lowkey I be thinkin' she talking 'bout me/Now I ain't no dummy to think I'm above criticism/So when I see something that's valid, I listen/But shit, it's something about the queen tone that's bothering me."
Those aren't the only lyrics many have assumed are addressing Noname, whom Cole has since said he loves and honors "as a leader in these times." Shortly after the song dropped, Noname tweeted, "QUEEN TONE!!!!" although she has since deleted the comment. Some noted that Cole had been quick to show support and empathy toward controversial male rappers such as XXXTentacion, Kodak Black, and 6ix9ine in the past, but appears critical of Noname's outspoken approach to politics.
Cole's manager and Dreamville co-founder Ibrahim "Ib" Hamad responded to the conversation on Twitter, writing, "[...] some people disagree with his message, or disagree with how he went about it or just don't like him already and I respect that."
He's not under attack lol some people disagree with his message, or disagree with how he went about it or just don't like him already and I respect that. I know what the intention of his message was and I agree with him, I think some people see it differently and that's fine. https://t.co/Ny3fzwAsv9— Ibrahim H. (@KingOfQueenz) June 17, 2020
his message might of been taken the wrong way by some or misunderstood by some but that's what happen with Art, everyone going to decipher it and connect with it differently. which I don't see a problem with.— Ibrahim H. (@KingOfQueenz) June 17, 2020
Noname's fellow Chicagoan Open Mike Eagle named both parties in his remark. "If Cole has a problem with Noname there is no way in the whole wide world that he's dumb enough to send bars at her," Mike wrote. "That would be dumb on 5 to 7 different levels."
Kari Faux and Jean Grae were also among the artists who weighed in: