5 Biggest Takeaways From J. Cole’s New Single “Middle Child”

J. Cole is back with his first solo single since 2013. Here's everything we learned from “Middle Child.”

j cole getty 2019 scott dudelson

Image via Getty/Scott Dudelson

j cole getty 2019 scott dudelson

J. Cole is back. After spending the final months of 2018 jumping on songs with everyone from 21 Savage to Anderson .Paak, he began 2019 as the orchestrator of Dreamville’s star-studded rap camp. Now, he’s opened a new chapter with the release of a T-Minus-produced single, “Middle Child.”

Cole isn’t a middle child in reality—he has only one older brother—but he uses the idea as a metaphor for his place in hip-hop (between the “lil’ n****s” and the “OGs”) while he warns the rest of the industry that he has no plans of sliding into the background. “I studied the greats, I'm the greatest right now,” he raps over triumphant production. As we enter a new era for Cole, these are the five biggest takeaways from his new single.

He won’t be quitting rap quite as early as he once thought

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As early as 2014, Cole was thinking wistfully about never dropping another record. “I’m content if this is my last one, going out like this,” he told us about 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Two years later, he was getting high with DJ Khaled and “play[ing] with thoughts of retirement.” But on “Middle Child,” Cole has changed his attitude, arguing that he “can’t quit” until all of his friends are rich. JAY-Z, another rapper who once threatened to retire early in his career, rhymed about the importance of having everyone around you succeed back in ‘96. Looks like Cole is following in the footsteps of the greats in more ways than we knew. —Shawn Setaro

His collaborative streak continues

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He might still be taking shots at Kanye

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He’s buddy-buddy with Drake

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This might be the beginning of a (rare) traditional album rollout for Cole

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