Cole World: The Sideline Story

As most millennials would agree, J. Cole is one of the greatest artists alive, and arguably, of all time. Personally, he’s changed my perspective on self identity, cultural awareness, and life. Most people that aren’t in love usually haven’t looked at many songs of his. So, if you’re struggling, we’ve compiled a list of all-time favorites that you can blast while studying on a Monday afternoon or hanging out on a Friday night.


1. "She Knows"

One of the most electric music videos I have ever watched helped me to fall deeply in love with this song. His eccentric take on what this song means changed my views on how his songs try to encapsulate diverse perspectives. The music video gives you that nostalgic rush of adrenaline that people often feel during adolescence.

2. "Apparently"

I have resonated with this song at so many points in my life. J. Cole paints his life with words by showing the pressure he feels and the image he is required to maintain. The pain he feels from this pressure is shown, as well as how he owns his life as his own.


3. "Love Yourz"

This is my all-time favorite song in the world. It portrays the fame J. Cole has gained, his ability to reflect on that fame, and the realization that capitalist greed creates a mindset that fame equals happiness. He debunks this myth, and shows that gratitude is the key to success. Every time I’m ever feeling happy, sad, or anything in between, this song makes me grateful for the people in my life, and that happiness is all about perspective. 

4. "January 28"

"January 28" is just one of the many examples of J. Cole’s lyrical genius. The song, a reference to his own birthday, is a sort of social commentary, as many of his songs are. However, this one stands out to me because of its central message in the chorus, which advises against selling your soul or devaluing yourself. The line, “Don't give 'em too much you, don't let 'em take control” always reminds me to not lose focus of who I am and why I am here. Sometimes when life gets really hectic and busy, it’s easy for me to lose sight of who I once was and what I stood for. Listening to this song really helps reinvigorate my passions and aspirations - especially when I hear the line, “If you ain't aim too high, then you aim too low.” If you ever feel lost and like you're floating through life, I would highly recommend listening to this song; it really helps ground you and remind you to not sell or even give away parts of who you are to fulfill external expectations.


5. "False Prophets"

Obvious from its name, this song is about idolizing people who don’t necessarily deserve it. Although this song is J. Cole’s commentary on famous rappers who don’t create their own music and how J. Cole once idolized these rappers, I believe this song is also a warning against falsely idolizing people in general. I think back to the times when I once put people on a pedestal, and how in doing so, it hurt the relationship and made me so much more disappointed when they inevitably couldn’t live up to those expectations. On another note, I also see this song as a diss to high-profile people and celebrities who serve as false prophets in an increasingly materialistic and celebrity-centric society. There are so many ways to interpret and relate to this song, which is another reason why I love it so much, and another sign of J. Cole’s deep and complex lyrics.

Maybe you're not as big of a J. Cole fan as we are; however, no one can deny his talent and ability to combine the perfect beat with insightful and perceptive lyrics. We highly recommend you give these songs a listen. Maybe they will spark your fancy and lead you down a wonderful road of amazing music. A true visionary, J. Cole will go down in history as one of the greats.