Earlier this year, despite pressure from fans, J. Cole stood firm behind his decision to bypass a follow-up mixtape to 2009’s The Warm Up. His reasoning: Why ruin the anticipation for his buzzed-about Roc Nation debut (an entrée, as he put it) by dropping another mixtape? But with his album’s release date now pushed back to spring 2011, Cole finally gave in, releasing his Friday Night Lights mixtape on November 12, and shutting down his blog with download traffic. “I realized that there would just be too much time before the album came out,” Cole explains. “I did it for my fans, and for myself. Just like they couldn’t go any further without hearing new music, I couldn’t go any further sitting on all that music and not having people hear it. It was bothering me too much.” Last night, Jermaine wrapped up his current tour at Highline Ballroom, blowing away a packed house with classics like “Lights Please” and “Grown Simba” from The Warm Up, and, of course, the new Friday Night Lights lineup, which commanded an appearance from Drake to perform their collaboration “In The Morning.” Juggling a tour schedule, prepping a new album, and dropping verses for Kanye will keep anyone busy, but we were curious to find out how Cole would fit his new songs into his daily rotation.
J. Cole’s Favorite Friday Night Lights Tracks:
To Jump Start the Day: I usually listen to songs that haven’t come out yet, and try to figure out what needs to get better, but “Blow Up” is knockin’. It’s super-duper high energy. If I need some energy, that’s the song that’s gonna give it to me in the morning.
Before a Sold-Out Show: I’m definitely playing the “Friday Night Lights (Intro)” because it sets the tone for a great show. It’s incredible for that “I’m getting focused, I’ve gotta get my mind right” kind of mood.
Tour Stop in a New City: Without a doubt, “Villematic.” I could’ve picked “Higher,” because it’s also a celebration song, but “Villematic” is more my style of celebration. I’m into the real emotional intensity of it. And as for the title, if I’m in a different place, it’s just so funny to say “Villematic” because it reminds me that I’m coming from Fayetteville, North Carolina, a very small city in comparison to say, London or Paris. It just feels really dope.
Taking in a View of the New York Skyline: “Before I’m Gone” is such a dramatic track, and that hook–“One time for the City!”– embodies Manhattan completely.
Returning to Fayetteville: “Home for the Holidays,” absolutely. It captures the nostalgic emotion of getting back up with my homeboys after being gone for awhile. I’ve got a couple more unreleased songs with the same vibe, because that’s been a big part of my life since college – that feeling of going home again.
The Best Verse on the Mixtape: It’s between “Villematic” – which feels like cheating because it has such a long, great verse – and the second verses on “Farewell” and “Too Deep for the Intro.” Those are the top verses. No – wait! The third verse on “2Face” is hands down the best on the mixtape. Hands down. I just changed my mind. Write all of that and then write that I changed my mind. The third verse on “2Face” is super emotional, super intense, super passionate, and it’s saying a lot of real shit on top of all the emotion.
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