Every once in awhile, you actually wake up to good news on a Monday morning -- and this was one of those Mondays.
I fell asleep on Sunday night and dreamed that rumors of a "surprise" J. Cole album were true. And, they were -- kinda. The Roc Nation rapper announced that his third LP, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, will arrive on December 9. So while the album isn't exactly a surprise any more, it's dropping pretty suddenly.
No singles are coming. No snippets. No teasers. Just a full album in December. That's glorious.
There are only a handful of rappers who could, or would even attempt to, successfully pull off such an accelerated release. And although he's not on the level of Jay and Kanye just yet, Cole is already one of those rappers.
Hey, he's probably still high from outselling 'Ye when their albums dropped on the same date last year.
The details surrounding Cole's album are scarce, but that makes this so much more exciting.
We know that he moved out to L.A. and holed up to work on this album. We heard that instead of producing by himself, he was more open to working with other producers. We know that he's had studio time with singer-songwriters like Jessie Ware and Miguel. And that's about it, as far as details go.
Of course, there's the list of things that fans like myself would want:
More overlapping story lines like "Power Trip," which picked up where "Dreams" left off, more videos with thoughtful and twisted plots, details about his mogul moves this year (both of his Dreamville signees, Bas and Cozz, dropped projects via the new imprint), insight on career milestones (like receiving Jay Z's original Roc Chain at Madison Square Garden).
And how about a record with his BFF Drake that will shut down the clubs but still boast absolutely impeccable bars, smoothly juxtaposed with the kind of heartbreaking record that he released shortly before visiting Ferguson this summer.
But, even if none of those things happen, I'm still ready for whatever Cole has to offer. He's clearly tapped into a new zone.
In the mini-doc that accompanied his album announcement, the 29-year-old took us back to 2014 Forest Hills Drive, in his hometown, Fayetteville, North Carolina. This is the house he grew up in, that he reportedly purchased this year, and has been using to host intimate listening sessions for his new project.
The video finds him retracing his steps and pointing out the spot where he participated in his first rap battle, for example, and also opening up about how he's reached a new point in his career. The point where he realizes that the success and fame isn't worthwhile if it comes at the expense of family, friends and sanity -- the things that matter most.
If you've been a J. Cole fan from the beginning, that means you've been growing with him over the course of his last few projects, like I have, and this sounds like a natural progression in that story.
Maybe you're way past The Warm Up stage, and finally made it up off the Sideline, too, only to realize that the further you climb, the more disconnected you feel. The more internal debates you've having about whether or not the sacrifices you make are worth it all. Just maybe...
There was a lot of ground covered in that 7-minute mini-doc. And I can't wait to hear the full story on December 9. Bring on the new chapter, Jermaine.