J. Cole - "Crooked Smile" (feat. TLC)

When I say that J. Cole the singer ruins J. Cole the rapper's songs, it's tracks like the J. Cole/Elite-produced "Crooked Smile" that go a lot further in proving that than "Power Trip." Unlike the latter, J. Cole the singer is no where in sight on "Crooked Smile." Cole is a replacement level singer at best, someone that doesn't cost himself any more money to feature as a guest appearance and could fill in for another singer, but he isn't the singer that you want carrying a song.

With the wealth of singing talent in the music industry these days and how much money that major labels spend refining albums, you would think that Roc Nation would spring for a Miguel, Cody Chesnutt, or even a Fences guest appearance instead of having Cole sing on his own songs. It's the difference between a single being catchy like "Crooked Smile" or forgettable like "Power Trip." Jay-Z and Kanye both understand their own limitations and you won't see them singing on their own songs (we won't speak about 808s & Heartbreaks in these parts).

In fact, if I heard either singing on "Can't Knock The Hustle" or "All Falls Down," it would ruin both classic songs for me. At least Cole isn't below replacement level (see Nas, who almost single-handedly ruins It Was Written on "Street Dreams"), but his singing keeps many of his songs from reaching that next level and he thankfully leaves the singing to TLC on this catchy tune about dealing with his own flaws. Born Sinner drops on June 18th.

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