There’s no doubt that J Cole was already gaining a name for himself in the rap world before he met up with Jay-Z to record a game-changing 16 bars on ‘A Star Is Born’, but with the help of Hov, Cole would become a giant of the industry.
J Cole, the North Carolina wordsmith, navigates the rap landscape with a lyrical finesse that defies gravity. His verses, a melodic symphony of social commentary, elevate the genre. Cole’s introspection, sharp as Manhattan skyline, weaves narratives of resilience and authenticity, placing him in the vanguard of hip-hop’s poetic evolution.
In Jay-Z’s opus ‘A Star Is Born’, the maestro of rhyme orchestrates a symphony of fame’s paradox. With a lyrical tapestry, he chronicles the ascent of a nascent luminary amidst the cacophony of celebrity culture. Jay-Z’s poetic finesse unveils the price of stardom, a sonnet to triumph’s bittersweet embrace.
The record sees Jay-Z rapping about some of the icons he has worked with on watched over recent years, labelling them as icons of the game. To then give Cole his chance to establish himself, sent a message to all hip hop heads. Cole told MTV News: “I think the title [of the song] and the feature really says more than even what the song is saying. ‘Cause in the song, he’s passing the torch in terms of letting me get the last verse. But he’s not saying, ‘Get ’em, J.’ or anything like that.”
“So the title says what the song can’t even say,” he continued, “I mean, to list all the names he names, all the greats [in his lyrics]. Even the cats that came and went. And to get on that with no history in the game, I got to add a fresh perspective.”
In truth, the song allowed Cole some vital experience, as the rapper recalled: “[Jay-Z] was on the couch at first, right there. It was the first time I was in the studio with Jay. And Beyoncé was there, to make it 10 times worse. Half my thoughts are trying to think of a verse, and then Jay-Z is there watching you write a verse. So I’m soaking it up.”
Kanye West would also be involved in the track, by hepiing on production and giving his older cousin Tony Williams the hook to sing. “Kid Cudi initially did that hook, and I just did harmonies and a supporting vocal for the melody,” reflected Williams.
“When Blueprint 3 came out, I looked at the tracklist and saw ‘A Star is Born featuring J. Cole.’ But I had no idea who J. Cole was,” said Williams, echoing the entire hip-hop world’s thoughts, “and when I listened to the song I heard a hook that I’d never heard before, because the last time I heard it, Cudi was singing the lead vocals and my voice was only supporting him. For two weeks, I listened to the record and thought, ‘Wow, this J. Cole is really killing this hook.’ But it’s actually me!”
Listen to ‘A Star Is Born’ below.