J. Cole has always treated beats as his playground, swinging from bar to bar and jumping from topic to topic with precision. Sure, the game has changed a lot since The Come Up came out in 2007, but the Fayettenam rapper's energy hasn't. On songs like "Lil Ghetto Nigga," which he produced himself, the 2010 XXL Freshman opened the blinds and gave a crystal clear description of the unfiltered reality he saw on a day to day basis..
That relatable realness gained him a huge amount of fans, spreading from North Carolina to New York City. By the time he released his sophomore tape, The Warm Up, in 2009, his ability to craft a formulaic hit was undeniably equal to his rawness, proven in records like "Lights Please" and "Dreams." After signing to Jay-Z, Cole stepped even more into his bag and dropped the classic Friday Night Lights where he starts off the project by soaring over a flip of Erykah Badu's "Didn't Cha Know" on "Too Deep for the Intro."
Prior to the release of his second album, Born Sinner, the self-proclaimed middle child launched the Truly Yours sequence, authentically flaunting his pen game. Most impressively, he verbally dances over Lauryn Hill samples on "Can I Holla At Ya" and "Cole Summer." Later, as one of the biggest rappers in the world, King Cole decided to selflessly share his platform and ticked off the Revenge of the Dreamers series with his label signees. On records like "Folgers Crystals," the Dreamville head honcho showed that even as an exec, he still refuses to get out-rapped by anyone around him.
J. Cole has reigned supreme during his mixtape run. So we took the liberty of highlighting the soundtrack of it all. Here are J. Cole's essential mixtape tracks.