From ‘Cole: Week Seven Response

A formidable pick for music Monday Sky. This one is interesting because J Cole is all over the critics’ radar, but, like you, I didn’t really mess with him too much. I do like “Crooked Smile,” and looking at that song and spirit of this track, I can clearly see why he’s chosen as Nas’ successor. I think it’s mainly because they’re both in the realm of conscious rap (although I think J Cole is more along the lines of Common than Nas–something about the lack of street cred. He has a much softer touch.)

But, again. Every popular song has a part of the zeitgeist.

This one, I’m interested in because of form/origin. The mythos is just as important as the track itself here. J Cole got word that Nas disliked his hit single–and this song was born. Then after hearing this, Nas remixes the track and everyone lives happily ever after.

Nas & J. Cole

The call and response format is nothing new–diss tracks make use of this all the time. We see more of those, however. This ones special because it’s like the opposite of the diss track. It’s like submission to his idol, like he’s repenting for the bad job he’s done by creating something great. It’s a sign of how much respect he has for his hero. And THEN even better than getting a personal phone call from Nas, better than a hand-written apology, a remix was born. It’s exactly what (I think) art should be–an expression, a response to stimuli, whether good or bad. Disappointment and pride–it’s all very inspiring.

I can’t help but feel that Nas addresses this in his remix: he had his share of criticism from those he looked up to, and he had to deal with it in his way. He knows that his job as one of “the idols” is to push him, to never let him plateau. Nas made his comment knowing that J Cole would probably take it to heart. I mean, it’s no coincidence that No ID told Cole about what he said–there had to be intent there.

To think that the idol can not only be the impetus for art, but also create a response that also becomes art is just awe-inspiring.

Still don’t like J Cole too much, but I can respect him more for what he’s trying to do. And maybe that’s what Nas was going for–like a PSA for an up and coming rapper. Very interesting.


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