J. Cole’s ‘Might Delete Later’ should have stayed in the vault

2.5 out of 5 stars

I thought J. Cole was the king of rap for much of my life. My older brother had me listening to “Work Out” on my iPod Nano when I was 7, and Cole’s 2016 album “4 Your Eyez Only” was the soundtrack to my eighth-grade year. I can’t say J. Cole holds the top spot anymore, and this album is part of the reason why.

On April 5, J. Cole released a 12-track album entitled “Might Delete Later” under Cole World Inc. The album featured other Dreamville label artists Bas and Ari Lennox, and notable artists Ab-Soul, Gucci Mane and Central Cee.

Cole starts strong with “Pricey,” featuring Ari Lennox, Young Dro and Gucci Mane against an on-brand beat for the Fayetteville rapper. The features worked well, and Cole’s flow matches up with the production style.

“Pricey” is followed by “Crocodile Tearz.” The song starts with an aggressive flow from Cole, and arrogant lyrics to match.

The beat warrants a more consistently aggressive flow than Cole gave. He opened the song with the energy I wanted, but when the beat intensifies towards the end of the song, the flow sounds boring with mismatched production.

“Ready ‘24” with Cam’ron is an enthusiastic beat, full of engaging cadence from Cole. Despite having a completely different energy than Cole, Cam’ron’s verse added to the song.

I loved the production on “Huntin’ Wabbitz.” Cole matches his flow to the elements of the beat, which I always love. He intensely delivers words as the track’s beats drop and occasionally changes his pitch to match the melody, making the song more cohesive.

Cole uses “HYB” to flex his clever lyricism. Central Cee and Bas complete the song with vocal diversity. Central Cee brings his British bars to the project, offering an entertaining contrast to Cole’s rap, and Bas offers a singsong tone to the collab. All three artists complement the beat well.

The album heads downhill after that, beginning with “Fever.” The song — track six — is lyrically basic, the beat is boring and Cole’s vocals are so poor that he sounds like he couldn’t get a chair to turn on “The Voice.”

Reminiscent of “2014 Forest Hills Drive,” “Stickz N Stonez” is the last enjoyable song before it takes a steep slide.

Ab-Soul and Daylyt are featured on “Pi,” with lyricism and cadence that could put any listener to sleep. The song sounds like a lunch table freestyle, not a studio-produced song by a “Big 3” rapper.

Ironically, in the anticlimactic “Stealth Mode,” Cole raps about wanting to let useless disagreements die, saying; “I been considerin’ extending an olive branch / Building bridges with n—– that burned ’em.” Considering Cole’s diss for Kendrick Lamar three tracks later, it doesn’t seem like he was ready to stand on that bar.

The 12th track, “7 Minute Drill,” is no longer available on streaming platforms, after Cole apologized to Kendrick Lamar for dissing him in the song. To read more about that, I cover the drama here.

J. Cole acts like music is a quantity over quality world, but he could stand to learn a thing or two about taking his time. J. Cole has released two albums, “The Off-Season” and “Might Delete Later,” since first teasing highly anticipated album “The Fall Off” on “KOD” in 2018. The anticipation is dying, and both these recent releases have made me less confident that “The Fall Off” will be worth the wait.

The album did have some playlist-worthy songs, but the project felt thrown together. Some songs would have been better saved for “The Fall Off,” and some lacked energy to the point I didn’t find them worthy of release. The album is 50% successful to me, so Cole should probably “Delete Later.”

You can read the Scribe’s breakdown of the rap beef here.

Photo courtesy of Hypebeast.