For a little while back there, the UK’s hottest DJ was a rather lanky white man named Tim Westwood. An icon of the scene, Westwood’s radio shows provided a good footing for some of America’s greatest hip hop talent to springboard into the UK market. One such rapper came nearer the end of Westwood’s reign but delivered perhaps one of the greatest freestyles the DJ had witnessed. That man was J Cole.
In recent years, it has been routinely confirmed that J Cole is one of the greatest rappers of all time. Just a few weeks back, Drake said to Cole: “I just want you to understand something. You are genuinely, without a doubt, one of the greatest rappers to ever touch a mic.” The Toronto rapper then passionately told the audience, “There’s way too many people in the world that think and know that J. Cole is at the top, in the pole position.” But, in 2010, Cole was just trying to make his name.
One of the best ways to do that, as it always has and likely always will be, is to deliver a fire-snorting freestyle capable of flipping tables and burning the house down. Luckily, for Cole, he is one of the best around at it and, in 2010, he was hungry to eat up anyone who thought they could go off the top better than him.
For a UK audience, he certainly proved his point when he joined up with Westwood for his radio show to deliver a powerhouse freestyle. Going over numerous beats, Cole delivers punch after punch like a heavyweight boxer finding his jab. It’s the kind of effortless flow and dense lyricism that quickly saw Cole become a superstar.
Ever since, the rapper has continually developed and honed his songwriting skills, using what he knows makes freestyles pop and putting them into his music. Given the platform Westwood offered him, and the rappers who had come before, Cole still delivers one of the best freestyles of his career.
Is J Cole the GOAT? That debate will rage on for a few more years. But he is understandably the undisputed heavyweight champion of the hip hop world right now, if not in cold hard numbers then in historical and present-day credibility.
Watch J Cole’s unique freestyle for Tim Westwood back in 2010.