J. Cole - The Warm Up

I have to confess that I've been holding out on you guys a little bit for the duration of my posts thus far.  While I've been meaning to get to J. Cole, I've been hanging onto this gem and I'm still unsure as to why.

J. Cole is the next big thing.  Hailing from Fayetteville, NC, this emcee reminds me a lot of Reasonable Doubt-era Jay-Z (a huge compliment considering that Hov's debut album is my favorite of all time) which is perhaps the reason why Shawn Carter signed him as the first artist to his new Roc Nation label after hearing his song "Lights Please."  Cole is a very smart rapper, he graduated from St. John's University Magna Cum Laude, and it shows in his intricate lyricism and wordplay.  He matches his amazing studio tracks with some of the best freestyling ability that I have ever heard (see his Shook Ones verse as well as the "Water Break Interlude" off of The Warm Up).

As far as mixtapes go, his June release, The Warm Up, is as close to perfect as they come.  I love pretty much every track, particularily "Welcome," "Can I Live," "Just To Get By," "Lights Please," "Royal Flush," and "Heartache," to name a few.  I don't dare say it because the hip hop gods my smite me where I stand, but his version of "Dead Presidents" might be better than Jay-Z's original.  Tell me what you think.