By Ruben Ayala III
This generation of Hip-Hop music is undoubtedly a mixed bag: there are the typical traditional rappers, there are the new trend of mumble rappers, and there are also Hip-Hop artists that have managed to cross over into the mainstream. Some would say that the genre today does not have the great crop of artists or heartfelt feel that it once had, but that certainly is not true it is just harder to find that particular type of Rap nowadays. There are definitely many Hip-Hop artists of this generation that could be highlighted when discussing the best around, but there are two guys that arguably have been at the top of the Rap game ever since they debuted and those guys are J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. These two artists are very similar in their subject matter and when it comes to their lyrics, but there is one major difference between the two and that is one of them gets hated on by the majority of music listeners. J. Cole has endured about as much hate that an artist could get from the general public and other than the reason that it is popular to jump on that trend there really is not a valid reason for the hate that he gets.
J. Cole has been a revolution of an artist ever since he debuted his first mixtape, The Come Up, in 2007. It is was apparent early that Cole had the potential to become one of the best artists of this new generation of Hip-Hop based on his lyrics and his storytelling abilities. Fast forward twelve years and he has made his case for taking the top spot in that list. Today, J. Cole has produced five platinum selling albums, including two double platinum selling efforts and four acclaimed mixtapes. J. Cole has shown that he is one of the most versatile artists today and his discography shows it. Looking for an album to just kick back and vibe to, there is Sideline Story, looking for an album with a little of a mix of storytelling and songs to vibe to, there is Born Sinner, KOD, and 2014 Forest Hills Drive, want an album with just lyrics and storytelling, there is 4 Your Eyez Only. This is just some of the reasons why Cole is one of the best artists out today.
Despite the undoubtable success and critical acclaim, J. Cole has endured much hate from casual listeners throughout pretty much his whole tenure as an artist. There is just no solid reason as to why this is. The most popular excuses that seem to be associated with the rapper is that his music is ?Too slow? or ?Boring?, which to his actual fans and major people in the industry and around it widely agree that these accusations certainly are not true. Everybody is allowed to have their own opinion whether it is agreeable or not, but when it comes to music there are certain artists that people necessarily do not have to like, but they should respect. When people bring up artists like Michael Jackson or Stevie Wonder, people really have no room to debate on their influence and greatness as artists and the same thing goes for Hip-Hop, if people are talking about Rakim or KRS-One there is no room for debate for how skilled and influential they are to the genre and J. Cole is definitely one of those artists that deserves to be respected and held to that standard when it is all set and done. J. Cole is not the only artist that is creating the type of music that is associated with himself, but it does not seem like any other artist like Cole that is constantly having hate thrown at him.
Kendrick Lamar is the perfect example of an artist that is making the same type of music as Cole, but is not getting nearly as much criticism from the mainstream and general public. People can argue which artist is better and they would have valid arguments, but you cannot dispute the versatility, genius, and skill of either artist. In 2017, Kendrick Lamar, released DAMN which is without question his most mainstream album, but at the same time it conveyed terrific messages throughout; out of the masses very few people were disputing the different sound. Pretty much a year later in 2018, J. Cole released KOD, which pretty much had the same type of sound as DAMN, and while it still got the critical acclaim and praise from the Hip-Hop scene, many of the public complained about its ?Intentionally? dumbed down lyrics and the trap beats that were also intentionally used to fit the feel of the album. It really does not make sense that Kendrick is praised for the same type of versatility, but Cole gets bashed for using the same kind of technique and possibly even making a better album between the two.
Unfortunately, when it comes to artists that seem to be above the rest in their respective genre fans and also general listeners expect the most of them and anything less. But, with J. Cole it seems like he cannot do anything to the standards that most people think he should be at. It is unfair to put these pedestals on anyone, but when people constantly blast an artist that really has not made not even a mediocre song it has to be just the wave of people jumping on the bandwagon of hating on him. It sucks that some people would be so ignorant that they would not at least listen to a song from a particular artist, but they are quick to recommend a song from their favorite artist to a person. Regardless of what anybody thinks, J. Cole has cemented his role and place regarding the top Hip-Hop artist of all time and when he is being put in list like that he does not deserve the amount of hate he gets and more so deserves at least the respect and praise even if some may not particularly be fans.