J. Cole says he’s a born sinner, but the Roc Nation rapper is clearly not plagued by greed. On Tuesday (February 12), Cole dropped five new songs in a project dubbed Truly Yours.
Originally, the “Work Out” MC aimed to drop his sophomore LP Born Sinner for his birthday on January 28, but like most major-label rap releases, the date got moved back. While Cole is still putting the finishing touches on the album, he dropped Truly Yours.
“It’s time. I appreciate you giving me the time I needed to grow, experiment, and find the direction for my 2nd album.. And I have,” Jermaine wrote on his Dream Villain blog. “Along the way I’ve recorded at least 4 albums worth of material, lots of it being unfinished demo versions waiting to be polished up, some of them are great songs and important stories that just won’t make the album (either they don’t fit Sonically, don’t fit Theme, or there’s just not enough space) .”
Cole is no stranger to doling out free music. Before he dropped his debut album on Jay-Z’s all-star label, the Fayetteville, North Carolina, lyricist dropped free mixtapes like The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights while still having the presence of mind to save gems like “Lost Ones” for his official Cole World long player. With Truly Yours it appears that the rapper/producer is being as strategic as he’s ever been.
“Tonight, I want to give you a few of these songs because you deserve them. It’s hard as f— for me to keep all this music from you for so long, so I know it’s been hard for you to wait,” he wrote. “Thank you for your patience. Vibe out to these songs in their raw form, no polish.. just a lot of my soul..”
The opening track, “Can I Holla At Ya,” get its acoustic guitar licks and hard-hitting drum track from Lauryn Hill’s “To Zion,” from her 15-year-old classic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Lyrically, Cole delivers three heartfelt, Tupac-inspired tales of lost love and changed friends. In the first verse, he spits about an ex-girlfriend who has moved on to another, while in the second, he sends shots at his stepdad, For the final verse, Cole addresses a homey who doesn’t quite know how to deal with Jermaine’s found fame and meteoric rap rise.
Truly Yours conjures up plenty of nostalgia, whether it’s the dreamy sample employed in “Crunch Time” or the drug-induced poetry on “Tears For ODB.” Even the project’s closing, “Stay,” which borrows the 2012 Nas song of the same name, is marked with a “2009” tag. It is unclear if Cole wrote or recorded the song four years ago and isn’t inconceivable that he got his hands on the beat before Nas.
Whatever the case, Truly Yours comes off as a nice hold-over until Cole drops Born Sinner. “1st single coming this week,” he began closing his digital letter. “The album is hands down my best work yet. Can’t wait to share.”
What’s your favorite track off J. Cole’s Truly Yours? Let us know in the comments!