Being in the age of albums with 13 features on a 15 track album this is a breathe of fresh air.
Cole did his thing by himself. at no point did I feel he could've used someone else point of view.
He stepped his pen game up and he is better on the boards than previous efforts.
even if he didn't make all the beats he still was able to get to expand his sound outside of the sometimes monotonous and identical production. and that's what many felt was holding him back was staying in the pocket and not trying to explore different sounds. there were no cringe worthy bars on this album, he left that "out fart me" shit in the past. Perhaps Cole's best asset is his ability to relay emotion and remain relatable. There was no shortage of Cole speaking on world issues such as Ferguson, poverty and being black in America. The album starts strong and finishes strong even though it does feel a little short outside of "Note to Self".
Although the quip on "Firing Squad" about white people stealing our shit is a highlight however it overshadowed the fact that Cole was spitting. "January 28th" is another standout track where he was proving that he can be elite on the lyrical side. As previously stated Cole stepped his pen game up and it shows from top to bottom. There shouldn't be any doubt whether or not if Cole can hang with his peers. Punchlines have been his weakness but he had a few that stood out. It's great to see his growth as an artist after 3 albums.
Cole showed that he understands how to construct songs. That's not to say he didn't put forth the effort before but I feel it was something that he completely improved on and it shows in songs like GOMD, Apparently and No Role Modelz. As relatable as "Wet Dreamz" may be I truthfully could've done without it. That's not to say I didn't like it but after the standout Jan 28 he should've placed another track after it to keep the momentum going.
The next step for Cole is getting motherfuckas that can actually sing. It's ok in spurts but when he is dedicating entire songs like "Hello" to his less than Drake singing voice it becomes a problem. Although Cole can't really sing or harmonize it doesn't bring down the overall value of the album. You almost have to applaud the fact he is taking that type of risk. There are many highs and very few lows. It's fun, relatlable, there is emotion, substance and lyrics. Practically everything you would want from a Cole album. This should've been his first but it is his third and definitely his best effort.