J. Cole Doesn’t Use Guest Verses But The Ones He Raps Never Lack (Video)
A guest verse from J. Cole is arguably one of the best “gets” in Hip-Hop today. The Dreamville MC and producer has earned enough accolades for his own work to place him among today’s pre-eminent recording artists, but his artistry doesn’t stop on his solo albums. Notably, the rapper who’s branded himself as someone who need not rely on features from others to score a hit album gives out some of the greatest features to other artists, both within and outside Rap music.
From Miguel’s 2010 single “All I Want Is You,” to Jeremih’s 2015 single “Planez” and Janet Jackson’s “No Sleeep” from the same year, Jermaine Cole has proven he can go toe-to-toe with today’s R&B megastars the same way he can with Hip-Hop thoroughbreds. Some of his noteworthy collaborations with highly respected MCs include his 2010 collaboration with Reflection Eternal, Jay Electronica and Mos Def on “Just Begun” and, also in ’10, “A Star Is Born” with JAY-Z. More recently, he appeared on Joey Bada$$’ “LEGENDARY,” alongside Kendrick Lamar on Jeezy’s “American Dream,” on Royce 5’9’s “Boblo Boat” and Jay Rock’s “OSOM.” The North Carolina native has positioned himself as a sought-after collaborator despite not inviting a single guest to appear on his previous three studio albums: the quadruple platinum 2014 Forest Hills Drive, 2016’s platinum-selling 4 Your Eyez Only or this year’s platinum-selling, message-driven KOD.
For his latest guest appearance, J. Cole is returning to R&B alongside 6LACK. Despite getting his start as a rapper himself, 6lack is now known as a chart-topping R&B artist responsible for the Grammy-nominated 2016 album Free 6LACK. Last month, he released its follow-up. East Atlanta Love Letter, buoyed by lead single “Switch,” features Cole on “Pretty Little Fears.” The track itself is relatively lo-fi, with little by way of big-bodied production. Nevertheless, it’s an evocative song about intimacy and Cole’s contributions give the song significant heft:
I’m lovin’ your light, vulnerable
Lettin’ your guard down, it’s honorable
‘Specially when the past ain’t been that
Friendly to you but there’s magic in that
You the flower that I gotta protect
To keep alive in the winter time, aye, don’t you die yet
You been way more than a friend of mine, we more like fam
I raise you, you raise me, let’s turn this whole life ’round
You can confide in me
I could take the weight up off your shoulder blades
And try to store the pain inside of me
Cole continues utilizing the theme of nature and growth throughout his verse, adding “Beautiful black child, come and share your black cloud / For your vibe and your smile, I don’t mind a lil’ rain” and “You plant a seed to grow some roots, a branch and leaves / Becomes a tree of life until our nights are filled with peace from stress and strife / And that’s the blessing that I get from wifing you.” It’s but the most recent example of how J. Cole’s verses are rooted in purpose; he could easily accept an invitation from any artist to collab, but his selection process seems to be informed by message over money.