Can Rising Rapper J Cole Overcome Jay-Z's A&R Curse?

Categories: Hip-Hop

j-cole-rihanna-tour.jpg
J Cole

"Jay-Z is the reason I signed to RocNation. It's very hard to say no to the opportunity when Jay-Z is involved." That's J Cole, talking optimistically about his status as the first signing to Jay-Z's RocNation label venture with concert giant LiveNation. But with Cole's debut album now pushed back again until September, the North Carolina-based rapper might be wondering if he's the latest victim of the curse of Jigga's A&R skills.

Despite Jay-Z being one of about three rappers who can still sell records and fill up stadiums himself, his record of spotting and nurturing talent is calamitous. In 1997, with the buzz of Reasonable Doubt building, Jay was part of the brain trust that decided that what Roc-A-Fella records really needed was Cristion, an R&B duo whose name was a pun on a brand of champagne and whose Ghetto Cyrano album probably isn't due for the revisionist treatment any time soon. Then came the traditional rap reflex of giving deals to your thug pals. But Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek (who still holds down an honorary role as Jay's on-stage hype man, often dressed in a tux) gave Roc-A-Fella careers of diminishing results -- and in Beanie's case, a public falling out.

Next up came Jay's Def Jam years, during which he inherited a roster of beloved-if-aging artists like Ghostface, Method Man, The Roots, and Redman. But instead of reinvigorating their careers, he signed off on albums that pretty much bombed -- prompting a recurring joke that the projects were being used as tax write-offs -- and saw the Wu-Tang element of the roster throwing not-entirely-coded barbs at their label boss. (Meth's "Say" is still a poignant take on the frustrations of an established artist experiencing the industry shift around him.) The Roots were even singled out for some special positive discrimination, as Jay allegedly started the more experimental Def Jam Left just to house the group's talents.

And then there was Kanye West, who, as rap lore and the "Big Brother" confessional goes, tried to persuade Jay to give him a shot as a solo artist for many years, with Jay continually shooting down his ambitions while proceeding to rap his way to platinum status over Yeezy's beats.

For J Cole to score a fruitful career, he might do well to take a cue from Kanye's perseverance, rather than waiting for a sincere assist from Jay. (Like Kanye, Cole produces as well as raps; there's a growing sense that his long-term future might even be behind the boards.) Being hand-picked by an icon is only beneficial if there's some reciprocal investment involved -- but at this point in the RocNation story, it's safe to assume that Jay isn't exactly spending much time in the office. That absence may have allowed J Cole's fellow RocNation signing Jay Electronica the leisure of forging a career based around releasing just one song a year. But for Cole it's left his early singles sounding decent but lacking any definite personality.

Last week on Twitter, Cole announced the formal title to his debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story. Considering the fortunes of Jigga's prior signings, he might want to switch out the subtitle.

J Cole performs with Rihanna at Oracle Arena tomorrow, June 30.

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NYC/BROOKLYN©
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NYC/BROOKLYN©: A. HOLE YOU PAPOOSED YOURSELF!!!©

80'sFlava
80'sFlava

Like already stated, Jay-Z is giving J. Cole the freedom to do what he wants on the album. I know it's not going to be some sort of pop album when it drops. Only sad thing is people who like 'rap' have changed. They don't remember beats being made for lyrics. Instead they like that over produced sound that drowns out the lyrics. So you got people like Drake being called the best rapper ever when that dude's lyrics are garbage, he sounds lost and confused when he is rapping 'uh' *long ass pause* in just about every song.

Mac Miller lyrics are garbage too but his beats are hot, so he too getting all the hype. J. Cole deff has a long career ahead of him because he can rap and produce. Something old school rappers used to do. And if you need him to make a pop song for the radio then you ain't a rap fan. Fact.

Queen Tee
Queen Tee

FINALLY we have a RELEASE DATE for J. Cole’s anticipated CD!

His ALBUM, ColeWorld: The Sideline Story

Will be in-stores September 27th,2011 Until the youcan buy the single “Workout” on iTunes: http://bit.ly/jBEuknor checkout  “Cole Summer” viral videos: http://bit.ly/poVAcW

Dnice
Dnice

Phil, what the hell are you talking about????  What growing sense is there that Cole's long term career might be behind the boards?????  Its your own made up imaginary BS..Stop trying to pass it off as main stream view.  Cole is one of the best to ever live, and Sept 27th will show you and the other haters why!

Wisdom Meets Knowledge
Wisdom Meets Knowledge

@Dnice you can't knock Phil for believing that J. Cole's long term career MIGHT be behind the boards. Who would have ever thought that Lupe's lyrical genius-ass would retire rap to produce? Cole is that guy, but I think Jay isn't going to let him get that big until he decides to retire. Sure Jay wants to bring in money for RocNation, but it seems he likes to let artists get their shine just enough to make profit but he doesn't want to give them the opportunity to surpass him as an artist...until he retires. And to the people talking about look at Method Man, The Roots, etc. now. Jay-z dropped their asses because they weren't on board for his pop shit. Look outside the money and you'll realize true GOOD MUSIC is within The Roots> Jay anyday. Jay didn't discover shit. Yeezy sent Dame the tape and he envisioned a bright future for Kanye. Yeezy, Cole and a lot of these niggas just kiss Jay's ass in interviews they grew up listening to Nas NOT Jay. Jay's at the top so they kiss his ass, deep down they don't really wanna fuck with him. But they understand now real hip hop on a ALBUM can't sell. This isn't some old timer talking. I'm 17, I just see what's really going on. P.S. People shouldn't judge so much by how much a artist sells today in hip hop, those numbers are manipulated a lot today. How the fuck is Rolling Papers  selling more than Section 80? When even 'Real Taylors' aint even buy the garbage. If you join they'll make your numbers look great, and they know everybody will buy into it. 

Cole World
Cole World

Look at how much stuff Jay-Z did for Kanye. Jay-Z had Kanye produce Izzo (H.O.V.A.), Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" and the Takeover so his Kanye name was all over the credicts for the Blueprint.In the years 2002–2003 Kanye would produce for artists such as Nas, Scarface, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, T.I., Ludacris, DMX, and Monica. He also continued producing for Roc-a-Fella Records artists and contribued four tracks to Jay-Z's The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse and had a feature on The Bounce song too. Look at how many guest apperances The College Dropout had.Jay-Z was also always bring Kanye onstage with him.Yes it  going to take time for J.Cole but it did for Kanye and it pay off.

J Hop
J Hop

i agree it could also be argued that GOOD Music wouldn't be the same without Jay Z. People just expect Jay to hold his artist hand through the entire process. He's giving Cole a chance to implement his own creativity. I don't understand why everyone is ripping on Jay Z for that. The way Roc Nation is being handled Cole will be fine.

Cole World
Cole World

Exactly like Jay-Z is not changing him as a artist because then that would not be what he seen and hear in him in the first place. I believe the wait is going to be worth it. Jay- Z is giving J. Cole his space and freedom. He not trying to control him like other A&Rs because he a artist himself so he already know the process. All he going do to is approve the album and he already said he was happy with the album.

Cole World
Cole World

You guys are saying J. Cole should sign with GOOD Music or  interscope but did he get a offer from GOOD Music or interscope. Like Big Sean album just finally came out and it look more like a pop album that a rap album.Also Pusha T and Cyhi Da Prynce both do not have their albums out yet either.Look at Consequence he had left  G.O.O.D. Music for not receiving credit for his work.who want to deal with that. 

Cole World
Cole World

Ok let get this all straighten out. Yes J. Cole could probably be on his 2nd or 3rd album heck at same labels he will be at his Fifth whatever but will they be quality album that a fanbase to support.Look at Curren$y for example he has been out since 2002 and his first album came out in 2009 yet he was able to put out six more albums with has no commerical success. That why Muscle Car Chronicles is Curren$y's final album released through DD172 and Def Jam and he is leaving Damon Dash.  

Jenniferj
Jenniferj

jay is holding cole back for sure. on another label he'd be on to album number two by now, have proved that he has the talent to make albums and be getting ready to step up to the next level. right now though cole is stuck at first base thanks to jigga....

flawda
flawda

Dame was the brain huh, then where the f is Dam today. Filing for bankruptcy and can barely get Currensy career off the ground, ya'll are some revisionist people. I would think you dudes would use some sense and say maybe Jay-z was the brains afterall seeing his post success past Roc a Fella, while Dame is struggling.

As for J Cole, if ya'll haven't noticed Roc Nation is using the old school template of building a artist. Put out quality music, put them on tour to build up their fanbase, look for the right single when they hype for them is at it's max, and then drop the album. The days of putting out a hit record and selling without a build up is over, you need a fanbase nowadays.

As for Jay-z A and R skills, he has had success and failures like everybody else. How are Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek failures, they both have 3 gold albums each. Those other dudes at Def Jam (older guys) have no commercial appeal.

Think before you type nonsense!

Chuck
Chuck

YES Dame was the brain as far as business went.Jay was was great at USING AND DISPOSING. Dame was so adamant about building the Roc brand he stepped on alot of ppl severed alot of ties hard to bounce back from that.

Roc Nation is doing nothing. Its all falling on J Coles shoulders.

Check the credits for Beans and Bleek who is the executive producer for all those albums.Hell if you compare albums from Dame as executive producer and Jay ill almost guarantee Dame comes out on top sales wise

flawda
flawda

Dame was the day to day man at Rocafella, Jay-z was the meal ticket at the label. When Dame was destroying relationships with Def Jam, firing exployees on his temper tantrums,etc Jay was the one who had to smooth it over. You didn't think people bought Roc a Wear for Dame Dash did you, you didn't think people bought anything Rocafella for Dame period did you?

Lol at Roc Nation being nothing, so Alexis Jordan isn't a interntational artist selling millions, Rihanna isn't on a world wide tour selling out stadiums, the BP3 didn't sell 4-5 mil worldwide, they don't have the biggest producers in the music business right now? Look at the big picture, and stop being so small minded.

Jay, Dame, and Kareem Burks are the executive producer of all those projects, not just Dame. Plus what has Dame done without Jay-z, Currensy is barely on anyones radar!

Stop yapping out your mouth without your facts straight, and look at who is doing what now.

afflalo
afflalo

Currensy should be on your radar, his following is growing, work ethic is unmatched and has yet to drop an underwhelming release. DD172's quality output > The Roc's , Jay reps heat, Dame reps quality, choose what you want!

Chuck
Chuck

 you didn't think people bought anything Rocafella for Dame period did you? So I'm guessing LL was the brain behind FUBU in its heyday huh ....created   the entire business plan marketing scheme and all ...ROFL

Chuck
Chuck

Nobody ever said Jay wasnt the meal ticket thats exactly what he was just that... the talent. Yeah Jay smooth things over so he would still be in good graces and still have connections when he disposed of Dame.He practices laws of power well lol  

Never said Roc nation was nothing lol. I said Roc nation was doing nothing when it came to pushing Cole

Dames was the executive producer Biggs and Jay were just credits on the disc. 

Jay did executive produce Kingdom come his self though LMAO. Sold well but compare the product 

Ta
Ta

you people forget what rocnation is! check the stats. at one point it had all 5 songs in the top 5! either through one of their artist, one of the artists they manage or writers they manage/publish. Today one of their writers broke a record 20 weeks at number 1 for the 'Just the way you are record' check the facts before you comment

Ta
Ta

that it is way more than what meets the eye. it is actually being very successful despite the common public perception 

Chuck
Chuck

ok at one point it had all 5 songs in the top 5 what's your point? 

Chuck
Chuck

so i guess their a powerhouse now huh

Chuck
Chuck

Point blank Jay just doesn't have skill as an A&R. Rocafella success was due completely to Dame's vision. Granted Ne-yo and Rihanna have had decent careers but last I checked they were pop artist not hip-hop artist. Even a broke clock is right two times a day. Rihanna didnt get success until what the 3rd album. Without LA reid that probably wouldnt have happened.Look it up anytime Jay is running lead on a project is bombs

Ta
Ta

um i think jeezy and ross didn't do too bad under Jay

Chuck
Chuck

they already had their own fan base

Chuck
Chuck

Foxy was well past her prime.....Yes hustlin was first taste of mainstream because the sound was new to the rest of the world....Similar to when the whole Texas  hip hop scene hit the mainstream.....but he still had his core following ....I was one of em. Ross took it to the next level after Jay had already left the executive office

I think you give Jay too much credit I believe Ross yes was influenced by Jay but he didnt have hands on involvement. I love Jay as an artist but when it come to the music he's just somewhat out of touch with the ppl. 

I really wish he would do well with artist and relations but its just not his niche.His success comes from the leg work of others its just that plain and simple. Jay fails a lot but he's able to convince ppl that it's justified. He rides the wave of what's hot and trending.

Ta
Ta

that's not a valid argument tho, because to what proportions did they blow after they got signed?? hustling (under def jam) was ross' first taste of mainstream success, the whole maybach music movement is a brainchild of his and jay and he will be the first to tell you that that why he was featured on all the initial mm songs.

Foxy Brown got signed to Roc-a-Fella with a decent fanbase but this did not guarantee her success. I think people judge Hov's failures a little too closely because they are so used to him always winning.

Chuck
Chuck

By the time they were signed Jeezy had a name through the BMF crew.....there were bidding wars. Rick was already a legend in FL by the time he got a major.....

Ta
Ta

you should check when they got signed 

JayJayJay
JayJayJay

dame was the business brains, biggs provided the collateral, and jay was the artist. and there's no way cole's debut is gonna drop before the year is out

Desire Renee
Desire Renee

I agree with starbux and Cole World...Jay isn't Diddy. He's not going to just bank on them and leave. Everyone knows that there was nothing he could have done with Beanie and the rest of them. Sure they were waiting on him to make moves, but they could have made their own and improved their own work ethics like Ne-Yo, Kanye, Rihanna, and Young Chris did (from Young Gunz) J.Cole has a very devoted fan base and I think its good that it was pushed back...look at what happened to Wale and Asher Roth..great rappers but their mainstream debut albums did poorly because they were rushed. All of these artists have great mixtapes circulating but that's all the labels saw and thought that they would sell a lot when they made albums and they were wrong. Roth walked out of his own listening party and even skipped songs! I'd rather wait for a decent album (possible classic) then having something that people would over look and Cole would regret. I dint know why people don't write articles like this about people like Diddy or Clive Davis. Their are plenty of artists we have seen come and go on those labels but no one ever questions thier A&R skills. I understand that Jay is a rapper and maybe that's why people doubt him but when you look at his losses to wins, he's only lost a few artists but gained good artists in the end. I know i'll be buying J. Cole's album on Sept 27 th :)

Joestarbux
Joestarbux

Let's be real Cole got one hellva following. His fans don't have no crazy name like nikki, wiz, or bieber. No his buzz ain't like Drake's was, but his buzz is really based off the fact that he makes real everyday life music. So his substance rap should have a longer lasting effect than the instant pop icon gimick of other artist. Think Lauryn Hill, think Tupac, The question is are we ready for this type of artist in the mainstream. COLE WORLD!

BigBoy
BigBoy

Just curious how are those artists doing now that Jay-Z isnt there anymore?? Redman, LL, Meth? Are they killing the game now? Im just curious? Oh ok...... 

Cole World
Cole World

First J. Cole had no other offers from any other labels. He was not in any bidding war with other labels because if he was he would not have to wait outside in the rain for Jay-Z. Also Jay-Z is allowing him to do his own thing and make his album the way he want it to be done. Roc Nation was the label that want him and want to be signed to Jay-Z so it was the perfect fit for him. Also Jay-Z had both Hugo Chakrabongse and Alexis Jordan both drop their on Roc Nation already and at least J. Cole a album title and release date. Also on top of that is on tour to promote the album so why would he worry. Also for Roc-A-Fella Records he was just one of three founders along with  Damon Dash and Kareem Burke. Also Jay- Z gave Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek a lot of buzz and their albums did get out.Beanie Sigel kept on messing with the law and Jay-Z could not control and let that stop him.Jay-Z gave him opportunity and beanie know that.Memphis Bleek and no problems with Jay-Z,he leave Roc-A-Fella after Jay-Z told him he could run his own company and had the proper distribution deals to do so.In the summer of 2010, he was on stage with Jay-Z, as a background singer, on the Swedish festival Peace&Love and BP3 tour in Madison Sqaure Garden.Memphis Bleek could of came to Roc Nation but he did not.Like you said Ghostface, Method Man, The Roots, and Redman are aging artists and their not mainstream. I love them but their not selling or what out.He let them release their albums he not suppoes to write it. Also he did give Kanye West a chance Kanye ran with it. Kanye did blow up but it just took time.                                                        Cause I only made classics, now what that take? TimingCole under pressure, what that make? Diamonds - J. Cole

John H
John H

Haha yeah Cole should have signed with GOOD music or taken that interscope money. Has rocnation even released anything ever?!!

Dsjj251
Dsjj251

you realize that Roc nation has only existed as a functioning since 2009 right, or are your really that stupid ?

what Good Music or interscope artist do you know that has sold any records lately(besides Eminem), NONE. 50 Cent barely went gold his last album.

look at what Jay Z has done for J Cole, he is on 3 tours trying to produce a bigger audience for himself, He produced ESPN baseball tonight song. He did the Powerade Commercial with Derrick Rose.

Jay Z has given him far more Promo than any artist on Good Music or Interscope besides Eminem

Knowledgable fan
Knowledgable fan

I ma a Jay and Jcole fan but Jay didnt do SHIT for JCole. JCOle did everything HIMSELF and meant as more credit to cole than it is tryin to diss Jay. Jay gives an artist the freedom and control to do whatever you want as an artist and that's good enough on its own. Jay did it himself and he expects u 2. Depending on the type of artist u are thats good or bad. Cole is extremely hard working and hes said he prefers this. Hes said he didnt even want to tour so much so he could be in the studion more. Most labels dont give you that at all so as far as Cole and Jay this is a great relationship. There has been no mention at all that Cole is thinking about going anywhere else because he regards Jay so highly so this article is bs for using cole as a possible example (i wont defend the others) of Jays flaws as a talent nurturer. 

and on the side, i have personal bias but, Cole has been extremely successful with his mixtapes (yes his official singles arent super hits but most non mainstream artists singles arent). His folowing is very real and being associated with Jay connects him to some mainstream fans that wuldnt. 

EarlT
EarlT

"look at what Jay Z has done for J Cole, he is on 3 tours"

um, yeah, obviously as he's signed to the company that has a monopoly on music tours!

Ta
Ta

its not naive because how the fuck will they sell the tickets if there's no demand? the man has a valid argument

Dsjj251
Dsjj251

ahh, and you think your ignorance is cute.

look at the ones on YM, they are doing just as many tours, so i guess Roc Nation isnt the only ones who can do it , OOPS, i guess you feel sad.

EarlT
EarlT

that's such a quaintly naive comment - you're cute!

Dsjj251
Dsjj251

He is on those tours because people know he has a buzz and a large following, not because Live nation is a  ticket company.

Dsjj251
Dsjj251

functioning company is what that should say.

No_contradiction
No_contradiction

Why is there no mention of Kreayshawn in this article?!? What is happening to ASD???

Ara
Ara

So we're just gonna ignore that Kanye (at the right time mind you) blew up under Jay? That when he was a label head he signed and blew up Ne-yo and Rihanna? That he gave Beanie the spotlight to blow up? I know he doesn't have the best track record with all his artitst, but you cant ignore all the facts just to help your argument...

And since Jay left, has Ghostface, Method Man, The Roots or Redman blew up to b even bigger? Nah, right? Can't still blame Jay on that one..

iPissInHallways
iPissInHallways

theres not a record label OUT there that hasnt had flops.. stop jockin the dude..plus he probably let all those vets do what they want as he would have wanted for him if he was in their shoes. Beanie was HUGE.. his second albbum killed him off.. he just aint longgevity in him, Kanye. one of the best.. and he was kinda so so with his flo when he started. alot of people forgot the Ye has evolved he aint come out witha fluid flow on his 1st album.so he probably was even worse before that

Kay
Kay

oh please, it's like LL said Jay-z is only out to promote Jay-z he has no business being a manger or C.E.O he sucks with other artists.

JETS
JETS

actually dame found west

Topher A. White
Topher A. White

You make some valid points but I'm not gonna give Kanye up as a Jay Z find, especially when Dame was the one who saw the vision and believed. After Kanye basically cultivated himself, we're supposed to act like Jay was the reason Kanye is who he is? Nahhhh, not that one

Ta
Ta

To be honest Kanye himself admits Jay was his mentor, we could even argue his lyrical skills wouldn't be where they are if he didn't play the role of good student. Kanye, like Jay now doesn't write down his lyrics. Jay will 'show dudes how to fish, but he won't fish for them'. J. Cole will be alright.  

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