J. Cole & Drake Go Head To Head On A Heavyweight Song
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Today (October 6), Drake released his eighth solo album, For All The Dogs. The 23-song album features collaborations with 21 Savage, Lil Yachty, Teezo Touchdown, SZA, and Bad Bunny. It also involves J. Cole, in the pair’s first collaboration since 2019’s “Jodeci Freestyle.” “First Person Shooter” addresses the subtext of two of Rap’s reigning superstars coming together to claim their impact, legacy, and G.O.A.T.-level status.
As one of the most lethal guest MCs in Hip-Hop history, Cole opens the song. “First person shooter mode, we turnin’ your song to a funeral / To them n___as that say they wan’ off us, you better be talkin’ ’bout workin’ in cubicles / Yeah, them boys had it locked, but I knew the code / Lot of n___as debatin’ my numeral / Not the three, not the two, I’m the U-N-O / Yeah, numero U-N-O / Me and Drizzy, this s__t like the Super Bowl.” Jermaine has no problem declaring himself the best alongside his peer—so much so that he says it twice. In an old school approach, Aubrey picks up mid-verse, keeping the point and the energy. “Big as the Super Bowl / But the difference is it’s just two guys playin’ s__t that they did in the studio / N___as usually send they verses back to me and they be terrible, just like a two-year old / I love a dinner with some fine women / When they start debatin’ about who the G.O.A.T / I’m like ‘Go ‘head, say it then, who the G.O.A.T.? / Who the G.O.A.T.? Who the G.O.A.T.? Who the G.O.A.T.? / Who you b____es really rootin’ for?” / Like a kid that act bad from January to November, n___a, it’s just you and Cole.“
Cole points out that people often misconstrue his intentions in lyrics. “N___as so thirsty to put me in beef / Dissectin’ my words and start lookin’ too deep / I look at the tweets and start suckin’ my teeth / I’m lettin’ it rock ’cause I love the mystique.” Over the last decade, at times, fans and journalists thought Drake and Cole were going at one another during a commercial and critical rivalry. Cole also re-confirms his upcoming album plans: “Can’t trust everything that you saw on IG / Just know if I diss you, I’d make sure you know that I hit you like I’m on your caller ID / I’m namin’ the album The Fall Off, it’s pretty ironic ’cause it ain’t no fall off for me.” The Dreamville founder then invokes the other name he and Drake often hear about: Kendrick Lamar.
“Still in this b___h gettin’ bigger, they waitin’ on the kid to come drop like a father to be / Love when they argue the hardest MC / Is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me? / We the big three like we started a league, but right now, I feel like Muhammad Ali.” While Cole can sometimes see like a lower-profile champion, he sees himself as the de facto face of the sport. He also makes it clear that he and Drake are a unified front: “The Spider Man meme is me lookin’ at Drake / It’s like we recruited your homies to beat demon deacons, we got ’em attending a wake / Hate how the gang gotta wait for the boss, man, this s__t like a prison escape.“
Notably, the song produced by Tay Keith, Vinylz, Boi-1da, OZ, Coleman Name, and FNZ takes a beat switch. Drake finishes out the track solo. While bragging and boasting, Drake takes shots at his nemeses. “You n_____s is still takin’ pictures on a dog stream / My youngins’ richer than you rappers and they all stream / I really hate that you been sellin’ them some false dreams / Man, if your pub was up for sale, I buy the whole thing / Will they ever give me flowers? Well, of course not / They don’t wanna have that talk, ’cause it’s a sore spot / They know The Boy the one they gotta boycott / I told Jimmy Jam I use a Grammy as a door stop.” After withdrawing from the awards in 2021 and having a complicated history with the Recording Academy, Drake does not view the trophy as a meaningful prize.
With the release of For All The Dogs, Drake spoke on SiriusXM’s Table For One, where he suggested that the song may have been completed just hours before release. “I just got out the studio. Fourth quarter magic, me and Cole went crazy,” Drake said on the platform. “Me and Cole went crazy. Shout out J. Cole. For All The Dogs. October 6. We’re here. I’m very very proud and I’m very, very grateful that any of you are still interested in what The Boy’s got to say.” He added, “We’re home. The album drop is dropping on the sixth of October. I finished the sixth song on the album tonight, which is me and J. Cole. Homecoming shows back to back. I haven’t performed for my city in too long… I can’t wait to show you how much I’ve missed you and how much I love you.”
The appearance also promised a pause in his prolific schedule. “I probably won’t make music for a little bit. I’m gonna be honest. I might, I got some other things I need to do for some other people that I made promises to, but I probably won’t make music for a little bit. I’m gonna be real with you. I need to focus on my health first and foremost.” He elaborated: “So I’m gonna lock the door in the studio for a little bit. I don’t even know what a little bit is. Maybe, maybe a year or something, or maybe a little longer.”
In addition to “First Person Shooter,” the AFH playlist features Drake and Conductor Williams’ collaboration, “8am In Charlotte,” along with J. Cole links with Lil Durk and Summer Walker. Selections from the J. Cole and Dreamville-produced Creed III Soundtrack are also included, featuring JID, Lute, Cozz, as well as REASON and Tierra Whack.
#BonusBeat: An episode of AFH‘s What’s The Headline podcast that examines the superstars of the 2010s, including Drake, Cole, and others: