J. Cole – Friday Night Lights | Mixtape Review

Is Jermaine Cole ready to make the jump from the bleachers to the All-Star team?

From his inception in 2007 to this point today, J Cole now undeniably stands as one of the lynchpins in the superstar team known as Roc Nation, with two dope mixtapes, a XXL co-sign, tutorship from a rap legend, murderous guest spots and an album which promises to awaken rap from the clutches of watered down diet Hip Hop.

Friday Night Lights could very well be the last free promotional campaign to turn any remaining doubters into fully fledged supporters as this mixtape once again invites us to Cole’s world.

Cole’s frusrated tones filter into the first of two intros a minute into the track, proclaiming how this ‘moment’ is his to make the most of. A slick production then follows as ‘Too Deep For The Intro’ channels the smooth merits of the late B.I.G’s ‘The World Is Filled’. Cole’s biographic verses delve exceptionally into issues such as school days, dealings with women and his impending explosion.

Much like The Warm Up [Cole’s previous mixtape] Friday Night Lights offers a soulful rap package, spiritual production credits and rough, unpolished rhymes from Cole. ‘Before I’m Gone’ is powered by emotionally battered lines from Cole whilst ‘You Got It’ flips Janelle Monae’s ‘Neon Valley Street’ into a cool dedication to a beauty.

Much like Kanye West, J Cole’s rapping skills are very much amplified due to his producer merits as each Cole assisted instrumental works in sync with the Carolina native’s flow. He even dons a Kanye instrumental on ‘Vilematic’ with ‘Devil In A New Dress’ as the backing to a verse which gives Ye’s original a good run for its money. Adding to the Kanye-affiliated theme, bonus track ‘Looking For Trouble’ features Yeezy, Big Sean, Cyhi The Prince and Pusha T. Although G.O.O.D Music’s roster make up the numbers, J. Cole holds his own with a killer verse, racking up a win for team Roc Nation.

For a mixtape, FNL provides many superb offerings which are original works rather than freestyles. ‘Enchanted’ (which borrows Tupac’s ‘Hail Mary’ chorus) sees him pairing with the equally talented Omen, ‘Higher’ has a playful, classic bounce to it and the Drake-featuring ‘In The Morning’ should increase his female fan base, as Cole brings an intimate, made-for-bed mood to the track.

Although ‘Premeditated Murder’ is the cut executed the most effectively (lyrics and productions wise) him singing the chorus is the flaw which dampens the mood, as well as on a number of other songs too. However, Friday Night Lights is a defining moment in J Cole’s career as he has managed to equal – if not better- his previous mixtapes, which is anything but an easy feat.

With his immense lyrical arsenal remaining intact plus an effortless flow, Cole is one of the few artists who fully embodies the old school emcee. Depicting the life of those on the lower scale of the economy with an intensity and passion will lead to comparisons to Nas, yet Cole definitely brings his own signature stylings to distance himself from such comparisons. Original productions and an unmatched consistency ensure Friday Night Lights will appease listeners for a much lengthy period than most mixtapes and add further weight to the idea that J. Cole’s first album will be crowned as a classic.

DOWNLOAD: J. Cole – Friday Night Lights Mixtape

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