"Hottest Breakthrough MCs of 2010" Candidate: J. Cole
J. Cole might be rolling with Roc Nation, but the North Carolina rhyme-spitter will be carrying the torch all by himself on his still-untitled solo album, due later this year.
For his debut, Cole said he doesn't expect to have any features, and the collection has been produced entirely by himself and veteran beatsmith No I.D.
"I might get a last-second Jay-Z appearance. We'll see," Cole told MTV News over the weekend, hinting that his Roc Nation label head could join him on a song.
A collaboration with the Brooklyn icon would be fitting, considering his protégé was introduced to the world at large by delivering an energetic verse on Jay-Z's "A Star Is Born" from last year's The Blueprint 3. But Cole, a St. John's University grad, has been recording material for years now, before he arrived in New York as a sleepy-eyed freshman.
He has released two mixtapes, The Come Up and his breakout The Warm Up, which included "Lights Please," a slow-burning number filled with the thoughts of a young man growing into maturity. That song attracted Jay-Z to the lyrically gifted young MC, and eventually Cole and his manger, Mark Pitts, who also oversaw Biggie's career, decided to become the first act on Hov's new enterprise. Since joining the roster, Cole has built a buzz with a string of song-stealing cameos on collaborations with Wale, Young Chris and Reflection Eternal.
Instead of tapping Jay-Z's well-connected list of multiplatinum producers, though, Cole decided he had enough material already recorded for his first LP. He said he's had a core of 10 songs that he's tried to hold on to, doling out only a few on his mixtapes, in hopes that the material would make up his debut effort.
"When you making an album, at least in my case, I had songs that I've had for three years that I've been holding on to that I wouldn't put on The Warm Up or any mixtape, because I felt they were too good. And over the years, some of them turned into, 'Oh, I can let that go, because I'm better than that now.' But there's been songs, or there are still songs, that will make the album that never left. You come into the album with that stack of records, and slowly, as you make more, you can see which of those can fly off. And it's hard, because they're all incredible songs, and you don't want to let any go. Now we're down to maybe three. They can never go. They have to stay."
Cole is currently riding high off his latest track, "Who Dat," a rumbling, braggadocious track introducing him to the masses.
His BBGun-directed video recently debuted, and his album is set for an October release, though Cole is quick to note he's hoping the project gets pushed up to September.
"All the pressure is on me," he said.
J. Cole and 19 other up-and-coming MCs are in the running to become MTV News' "Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010" — and the winner will be decided by you!
Cast your vote for the "Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010" right here. The top five will be revealed beginning July 19, and the winner will be announced on the "Sucker Free Summit" July 25!