Drake Vs J. Cole: Battle of the New Bloods

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By: Tiffani Haynes & Chris Swails

Flow

TH: When it comes to the flow, J. Cole has Drake beat. Yeah, I said it. Drake might have the punch lines but his story-telling skills are subpar. J. Cole’s ability to tell a story from the first verse to the last has classic characteristics. He has the inherent ability to take you there, to the moment and feeling the song’s supposed to represent. Take “Dreams” of Cole’s Warm-Up tape, he builds up this anticipation about approaching and attempting to bag the girl of his dreams. Hell, even I get nervous on the verse where he approaches her, feels like I’m trying to holler.

“…I spot her walking in the mall/‘Ok, it’s time to grow some balls if she’s really gon’ be yours’/Oh my God, I’m walking towards her/My mind screaming “Stop” but my legs keep walking forward/‘Straighten up your face, nigga, she sees you coming for her’/My heartbeat racing and my hands keep shaking/‘Say something you shy motherf*ker she’s waiting’…”

You didn’t feel that? Yup, thought so.

CS: Not so fast, let’s not overlook the versatility factor. Drake can go from Birdman to Mary J. in a matter of seconds. Also, Drake is a better studio artist than J. Cole. If you leave Drizzy in the lab with the lights off, he’s going to make the magic happen. Furthermore, at any given moment Drake can hold the kind of note that begs the question, is he a singer or a rapper? His flow is a mixing bowl comprised of herbs and spices from different regions of the map. Through his flow the listener absorbs East Coast quality punch lines, a sprinkle of southern slang and a unique Toronto sound that’s all his own. My favorite thing about Drake’s flow is his cleverness, it puzzles me how simple but effective his lyrics are. While spitting over Kanye West’s “Say What’s Real”, Drake utters one of my favorite lines of last year.

“…and promoters try to get me out to they club/They said I had fun but I can’t imagine how/Cause I just seen my ex-girl, standing with my next-girl, standing with the girl that I’m f*cking right now…”


Body of Work

TH: Cole has released two mixtapes since his time in the rap game, The Come Up (2007) and The Warm Up (2009) with bangers on both. The first effort pales in comparison to his second, the time between the two allowed J. Cole to up the ante on the mixtape game.

The Warm Up has album potential. Aside from the radio spot (the Water Break interlude), the tape flows effortlessly. Few have been arranging albums lately with such thought that each song leads into the next, from one emotion to the next. Look at his 3-track melody of “Lights Please”, “Dead Presidents II” and “I Get Up.” He starts out talking about bettering the community, trying to spit knowledge in the midst of a money-hungry, power-driven world. But in “Dead Presidents II” and “I Get Up” he gives in to it. DP2 shows his focused money-mentality while “I Get Up” balances both. It focuses on the struggle of trying to get the money while still speaking about substance.

“Destined to shine I’ma find a way/ ‘Cause hey, damn it them jobs out there ain’t tryna pay/ Granted a Nine to Five is how you survive/I ain’t tryna survive/ I’m tryna throw my mama in rides…”

So while The Come Up is appreciated and respected, The Warm Up shut it down. Hands down.

CS: As far as material goes Drake is, So Far Gone…past J. Cole. Never before have I witnessed one piece of work do so much for an artist. Drake’s third mixtape, So Far Gone (2009) landed him with hit singles, a Grammy nomination and the arguably the biggest buzz of 2009, all without an album in stores. If that’s not enough, add Jay-Z on stage as Drake’s hype man. Many wonder was So Far Gone really a mixtape or an album.

The reaction from So Far Gone trumped that of his first two mixtapes: Room For Improvement (2006) and Comeback Season (2007). What many are unaware of is that the singles “Forever” and “Money to Blow” are old songs from the Drake archives. With his debut album, Thank Me Later due to hit stores on V-Day, fans are anxious to see how good Drake’s music really is…when it’s not free. Like Drizzy said on the Birdman track Mo Milly …“Thank Me Later first week I’m takin’ all bets/Cause a million copies really isn’t far fetched…”

Affiliations

TH: As an emerging artist, it doesn’t get much better than signing under Jay-Z and his new label, Roc Nation. Being the label’s first artist is an honor and a weight on the shoulders. J. Cole’s got to perform and represent the label well, he’s setting the standard. Yet, Cole’s wearing the responsibility well. J. Cole stands to fare better with Roc Nation than Drake will with Young Money. As the solo artist, Cole will be the main focus, whereas Drake’s sharing the spotlight with a whole group of people. Without going above and beyond to stand out, he could get lost in the mix, especially if the focus and promo switches to another group member. Not to mention that the tradition of the Roc has been to branch out and have multiple businesses and deals, all pots Cole could get his hands in. Roc Nation will only improve him and launch him into a bigger arena, approaching the rap game as a business.

CS: Pick your poison, would you rather be signed with Jay and not even have a single out or be signed with Wayne and be a part of the peanut gallery? Although I’m not a fan of him as a part of Young Money, I am glad to see that Drake is signed with a label that gives him artistic freedom. Besides, I’m a fan of The YM Triple-threat: Drizzy, Wayne and Nikki, 2010 should be a good year. But Drake, if you’re going to be with YM, get a chain or a tattoo…or something! How can you be in the video with “the #1 STUNNA” and you don’t even have on any jewelry? Another thing, somebody hurry up and get this man a stylist please, [minus the varsity jacket] he dresses like Al from Home Improvement.

Predictions

TH: I’ve been trying to place J. Cole in category. He’s not like the conscious Common. He’s not the over-the-top arrogant ‘Ye. He’s not the catchy-cliché Wayne either. Guess he’s a little bit of them all. He can spit about the community, brag about chicks and hit a catchy one-liner with the all of them. His personal potential plus his Roc Nation family and big homie Jay makes for a scary combination. Jay’s already said he’ll teach them about fish scale but he won’t fish for them. If J. Cole’s smart he’ll take his fishing pole, get on a yacht and learn from the best. Under Jay’s tutelage, J. Cole could go far…around the moon and back.

CS: In the following months I predict that Drake will begin to disconnect himself from YM. I believe Drake sees the music business as the first day of high school; he is just trying to figure out where to sit at lunchtime. When Drake begins to grow as an artist he will realize that he does not need run in a ‘clique’ to be successful. The YM group thing is destined to fail…soon. I mean seriously Wayne, you want to be a Hot Boy that bad? If a group of 4 didn’t work, what makes you think a group of 20 will? Simply put, Drake will leave YM in 2010 because his work speaks for itself. No ad-libs.

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10 Comments

  1. Whaaaaaaat? SICK, SICK feature y’all! I love it!

  2. ya’ll rocked this story!!. i still dont know who better. valid points on both sides. lol.

  3. They both r nasty J.Cole got crazy wordplay and beats and Drake got sick punchlines, can sing, and can write a sick hook in his sleep!! It’s even to me Drake just got the bigger buzz like 50 had when he first came out in 99.

  4. Boobie says J. Cole all day

  5. I like em both, but gotta give the edge to Drizzy. Drake just has it. Holds his own against the hottest rapper in the game on straight spittin tracks like Ransome (no links cause I’m on the my Pre), have deeper lyrics on tracks like Fear, and get on tracks with Mary J, Trey, and sing backup for Alicia Keys and sound natural. Not to mention the YM tour caked up on another level this year, and Jay (while still my favorite rapper) has a terrible track record of picking the next hit. The ROC were full of failures except Kanye, whom Jay didn’t support as a rapper at first (quite famously).

  6. Edge has to go to Drake for versatility. Hangs with the heavyweights on Forever and Ransome, shines when placed next to regulars (the rest of Yong Money), and is comfortable with Mary J, Alicia Keys, and Estelle. Not to mention So far Gone was Rap album of the year, even though it was a mixtape.

    As far as Drake as a part of YM, thats him staying active. You notice him and Nicki are used sparingly on the YM album and are all but absent on the next major YM mixtape (Guddaville). Not a bad move for Drake though considering the crazy amounts of money that tour made. I wish i could take a cut.

    j. Cole is a beast, but right now he’s playing catch up

  7. BTW: I think Cole is more talented than Drake, point black period but I agree with Chris. Drake is so much more versatile.
    If Jermaine remains true to Jermaine with the hardcore vulgarity and “I don’t give a fuck” attitude, I think it’s going to be tough for him.

    Drake on the other hand can sing a ballad, throw in some Wayne and follow up with a hot beat and he’s set.

    If I ever heard J sing a ballad (Lights Please doesn’t count) I’d probably laugh my ass off. lol

    I will say that the last thing I wanna hear is a watered down J.Cole track tho.

    It’s inevitable that Drake’s gonna have a good year, let’s hope the same goes for Cole.

  8. I love both Drake and J.Cole i think Drake just had more chances to show the world what he has to offer. Everyone has their time to blow up and it’s Drakes time right now hes a dope rapper because his flow is tight and what he says is ok, he comes harder on some songs more than other’s. The industry at this point just gave Drake more of a chance to become commercialized so he appeals to the masses. When J. Cole gets his time to shine I think hes gunna blow up more than Drake. J. Cole got Drake beat lyrically but I feel like right now he wants to lay low and learn all he can from Jay abt the business before all that happens. J. Cole is a smart nigga idk if ppl know that but I think he’s waiting for the right time. Once that happens its Team J. Cole all the way!

  9. Good point prmonster.

    J Cole is a really smart dude.

    Graduated from St. John’s Magna Cum Laude.

    *Clap for an educated rapper*

  10. @Danielle….clap for em! lol. Love when you do that.

    @prmonster…I agree wholeheartedly. Beans, Young Gunz and all those other ppl didn’t have the right mindset. They just wanted to blow up as a rapper and not learn the real biz of it. You have to wanna blow up as a mogul. The average Joe on the street is rapping but he’s not making clothes, cologne, owning sports teams, etc. Like I said in the post, if he sits back and learns from Jay he’ll be so much more than an artist. Anybody getting money in music right now isn’t just an artist, they’re a brand.


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