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Spin: J. Cole’s Starry Eyes vs. Phonte’s Long View

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J. Cole’s album: Not that bad! I know, I know, that’s pretty low stakes and all, but we’re getting back to this point now where there’s a big cognitive dissonance between what rap nerds—even so-called “populist” rap nerds—are willing to big-up or shit man, at least accept, and what regular ass fans are fucking with. Also see: Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV. There’s a reason people like these albums and there’s a reason they like this Cole character. Nobody’s been hoodwinked here! That said, I don’t see where Cole’s career goes after this and he’s gonna have to get a little cynical and real and take some tips from someone like Phonte if he’s going to be kicking around in a decade or even like, two years from now. Also that Phonte album: Really fucking good. Better than it needs to be.

Phonte Coleman, one half of electronic R&B duo the Foreign Exchange, and formerly of defunct Durham, North Carolina, rap group Little Brother, declares at the start of his solo debut Charity Starts At Home: “I do this all for hip-hop.” Then he pauses and laughs, “I’m lying like shit, I do this for my goddamn mortgage.”

The album title makes clear that lofty goals like changing the world, one conscious rhyme at a time, have been replaced with something more practical. Phonte’s excellent, poignant album is paradoxically focused on decidedly un-hip-hop things: Getting older, realizing rap doesn’t move him too much anymore, the fuck-ups of family and friends, having a wife and kids and lots of bills…

Written by Brandon

October 5th, 2011 at 4:52 am

One Response to 'Spin: J. Cole’s Starry Eyes vs. Phonte’s Long View'

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  1. Just left the populist nerd fan’s meeting and can report on our assessment of J. Cole. I think Cole is cool but 2 things are keeping me from embracing him. 1) I think im just getting old and dont care anymore about these young rap dudes. That being said, 2) Cole doesn’t seem to know what his identity is and that makes him seem to try a lil too hard/seem like he’s lacking something. I kinda dig Odd Future, mostly cuz they seem to know exactly what their aiming for, even if it a shtick, they stick to the script (for the most part). Or even Drake who has found a way to sorta balance that conscience/ballin’ persona. Cole tries to do that but where Drake comes off complex and 3 dimesional, Cole just sounds like he’s tryna please everybody way too hard. (but hey, he sold 210k in a week so what do i know) P.S. all this goes ditto for Wale.


    5 Oct 11 at 5:41 pm

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