J Cole has always been considered one of contemporary hip-hop’s great creatives. In this new age of music, artists can go in highly different directions regarding creativity. Many MCs play it safe with their material and stick to a proven formula. However, many others take a shot in the dark, try new things, experiment, and ultimately release more original and intriguing projects.
Whether it’s J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator or Chance The Rapper, there are several figures one can point to when speaking about creativity in the culture currently. However, there is undoubtedly a market for unoriginal music exciting people produce.
Artists such as Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert have outlandish ways and bold personalities. However, when it comes to their art, the trap and autotune formula that has been the status quo for a decade is what listeners receive.
True creativity and originality create a scenario similar to Kanye West’s, where every project sounds different, and the sonics evolve with the artist. College Dropout sounds very different to Graduation, which is nothing like Jesus Is King. However, only some mainstream acts are willing to risk changing their sound for fear of losing the fanbase they established. As such, they merely continue to make the kind of music that granted them fame.
J Cole, Kanye, Tyler The Creator and all the previously mentioned artists keep their fans on their toes, as they never know what to expect. Meanwhile, hip-hop fans can successfully predict how a Migos project will sound months before its release.
All that said, J Cole once surrendered and insisted that there is one emcee and producer that is creatively “miles beyond” everybody else in hip-hop. Shortly after the release of 2014 Forest Hills Drive, during his press run dropped by ‘The Angie Martinez Show’ on Power 105.1 FM to speak about his album but also his influences.
When Martinez asked the Fayetteville artist to name his five favourite rappers, Cole admitted, “It probably changes all the time,” but proceeded to list 2Pac, Biggie, Nas, and Jay-Z. However, Cole struggled to pick between Eminem and Andre 3000 for his final spot. He eventually decided Em, but asserted, “Andre’s incredible, but he’ll tell you himself, he was in a duo, so his workload was a little less, but creatively he’s miles beyond.”