J. Cole, Jay-Z’s first signee to Roc Nation, is only comparable to Drake in his appeal to both a mainstream fan base and hardcore rap fans. He sold a lot of albums with his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story and has had numerous hit singles, including the latest, “Power Trip” featuring Miguel, which is a mainstay on urban radio. Through all the success, one of the greatest trademarks of the Fayetteville, North Carolina-bred Cole is his high output and humility. Even with the impending release date for his sophomore album Born Sinner this summer, he doesn’t seem satisfied with just having a single out: he has self-released the second installment of the Truly Yours mixtape series.
Truly Yours 2 is candid, powerful, real – there’s seemingly not enough good adjectives to describe the 6-track EP. Cole sets the pace with the self-produced opener “Cole Summer,” which sounds like vintage Little Brother and samples Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo’s classic “Nothing Even Matters.” There are too many memorable lines on “Cole Summer” designed to yield that mouth-clasping and ooohs and aahs, and yet all these lines fit within the biographical, narrative verses that we’ve come to expect from Cole. He gets a lot of his chest and emphatically preempts haters when he raps: “When I release trust if you feel that my sh*t is weak, when you see me in the street just speak/I will refund you.”
The energy and feel of “Cole Summer” continues on “Kenny Lofton,” produced by Canei, with Young Jeezy popping in for a verse but getting severely outshined by Cole (a quite remarkable feat in and of itself that says a lot about Cole’s ability). The EP’s club-ready track is “Chris Tucker,” also produced by J. Cole and featuring a rambunctious verse from 2 Chainz. The lyrics are largely devoid of the substance of the previous two tracks, but for a change, it’s actually a welcome change and shows Cole’s versatility to switch styles. The tape’s gem is “Head Bussa,” with driving drums that pave the way for a hungrier-than-ever Cole to discuss his unlikely come up from a small town to star status, which he continues to address with personal anecdotes found throughout “Cousins,” featuring Cole’s Dreamville cohort Bas. Rounding out the EP is the highly personal and aggressively introspective “3 Wishes,” with a Jake One instrumental that paces like Nas’ “Second Childhood.”
Truly Yours 2 is refreshing and should be a compulsory listen for anyone who loves rap music and thinks it isn’t what it used to be. From beat selection to the topics and delivery, there simply isn’t much more to ask for that J. Cole that doesn’t deliver here.