North Carolina native J. Cole is often mentioned in the same breathless savior-of-rap exultations as current crossover stars like Wiz Khalifa, Drake, and company. That's a lot of pressure for these 20-somethings, but so far, they seem up to the task. Although the latter two mentioned have achieved bona fide pop stardom, it's soon J. Cole's turn at bat.
The 26-year-old has a serious backer -- he's been lauded, hip-hop fans already know, for being the first artist signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation. In fact, Jigga himself is co-executive producer of J. Cole's forthcoming disc, Cole World: The Sideline Story, due out in September. The disc is also set to feature work by high-profile producers like No I.D. and Danja, as well as by Cole himself.
So with all that hype, how are the tracks stacking up? Cole's Tweeted that the whole disc is done and has been leaking a few himself on his own website. The latest, "Work Out," dropped last week, and it might surprise fans of Cole's more lyrically intense mixtapes. This is a summer-ready, laid-back jam aimed squarely at females -- it's a love (or lust) ode to a bad bitch, complete with a passage at the end that riffs on Paula Abdul's "Straight Up."
It's a fun song, and not surprising; with so much hype and so many marquee names behind him, Cole's going to have to deliver something for new audiences on his album. So how will the rest of the new tracks stack up? You might get a chance to hear them live in a couple of weeks, when he opens for Rihanna at the BankAtlantic Center on July 14. Tickets are still available, and in the meantime, download "Work Out" below.
J. Cole, with Cee-Lo Green and Rihanna. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the BankAtlantic Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. Tickets cost $28.75 to $400. Visit ticketmaster.com .
Download: J. Cole - "Work Out"