Since releasing 2014 Forest Hills Drive back in December of 2014, J. Cole has elevated his game and become one of the biggest faces of hip-hop. Between HBO documentaries, sold out shows at MSG, meetings with Obama, platinum certifications and late night television appearances he's been everywhere, which is the reason it has been easy to overlook the fact that Cole's essentially released no new music for the last year-and-a-half, with no real indication of new music coming.
Granted, there was a freestyled remix with Kendrick (which came with hints of a collab album that obviously never materialized) and a handful of Dreamville-related cuts with Cole riding shotgun, but when it comes to solo material, particularly solo material that even suggests a new album is in the works, the Fayetteville native's been quieter than a mime with laryngitis.
That might change soon. In an interview with Complex, producer Cardo (of “Seen It All” and “Untitled 07” fame) discussed his new-found relationship with Cole and provides our first real confirmation that Cole's been in anything resembling album recording mode.
I connected with Cole when I was working with my guy Matt. He was like, “Yo, J. Cole needs some beats.” He ended up taking like two or three beats. And then he was like, “J. Cole wants to talk to you. Here’s his number.” I ended up talking to J. Cole and had like a 30-minute conversation just talking about music and everything. I thought that was the dopest shit as well because I’m a fan of J. Cole’s music. He said he’s got this record and just needs the files, so I ended up sending him files and this and that.
Before you get too excited - Lord knows we don’t need another Kendrick/Cole EP situation - let's put this into perspective. Cardo isn’t saying there's definitively an album in the works, or that the release of any new music is imminent. Until we hear from Cole's right-hand man and Dreamville's President, Ibrahim Hamad, who we reached out to for a comment on this story, only time will tell if this record comes to fruition or ends up on Cole’s next project.
All we know for sure is that Matt McNeil (who also shopped Cam O’bi’s beat to Bas for "Too High To Riot") passed along some beats from Cardo, and whatever struck Cole about one of those beats, whatever ideas it prompted or writing he may have done, it drove him to take the serious next step of getting the full session files for the instrumental, which he wouldn't ask for if he wasn't seriously considering one day mixing and the mastering the song.
So while a single may still be months away - or tomorrow, surprise! - we now know that Cole's in active recording mode. It's not blockbuster, stop-what-you-are-doing-and-subscribe-to-TIDAL news, but when his legions of fans are staring two years without a new album from their hero in the face, any J. Cole news is big news.
Start to get hyped people, 2016 might just end on the same powerful note as 2014.