It may not have come as he planned, but J. Cole finally got a feature from Jay-Z on his debut album.
Despite being signed to Hov's Roc Nation, there was no guarantee that the CEO would lend his voice to Cole World: The Sideline Story. Cole recorded the yet-unreleased "God's Gift" in hopes that Jigga would ride shotgun on it. Instead, it's the slick-talking "Mr. Nice Watch" that will bear Jay's bars when Cole's album drops September 27.
It's fitting that Jay would appear on the futuristic-sounding track, considering its hook borrows from his own "A Million and One Questions." On the 1997 underground classic, a still-on-the-come-up Jigga raps in third person, "Uggh, nice watch, do you really have a spot?/ Like you said in 'Friend or Foe' and if so, what block?" And with that inspiration, Cole builds his single, which leaked online Wednesday (September 14). "No more Mr. Nice Guy, hello Mr. Nice Watch," the North Carolina lyricist raps as he moves from struggling underground artist to major-label breakout.
On the self-produced track, Cole World provides a bouncy dubstep backdrop, perfect for stunting. Hov doesn't disappoint either, rapping cryptically, using Florida Gators great Tim Tebow to metaphorically illustrate his affinity for his own wrist wear. "Got a Hublot, I call Tebow, I strap that bitch with a gator band/ Y'all n---as ball half time, y'all n---as like the Gator band."
This isn't the first time Cole has appeared alongside Jay on a track. In 2009, the upstart made his presence felt on Hov's "A Star Is Born" from the mogul's The Blueprint III album. But during his appearance on "RapFix Live" back in February, Cole told Sway the high standards that he holds for a Jay collaboration. "They been asking me this for a while because I said he was like one of the only rap features I wanted, but it's about the song. It's a lot of pressure on that song. I feel like that's my hardest song to make, is the one I want Jay for. My standards are so high."
During an August listening session in New York City, Cole played the entire album, and at that point, Jay had not yet appeared on it. Cole played both "God's Gift," on which he left an open space for Hova's verse, and "Mr. Nice Watch."
"Nobody owes me anything," he told the journalists who gathered that night. "Jay-Z doesn't owe me a verse because I signed to him."
Well, Jay gave him one and it couldn't have come at a better time.
What do you think of "Mr. Nice Watch"? Share your reviews in the comments!