In August, Drake called J. Cole one of the "most legendary artists of our generation," and fans interpreted the compliment as a cross between "real recognize real" and hyperbolic flattery.
Cole, now famously, earned himself a plaque for achieving a double-Platinum certification without a feature on 2014 Forest Hills Drive, and he's one of a very small number of hip-hop artists to sell out Madison Square Garden, so obviously, Drake's props weren't off base. As a result of his more reclusive lifestyle, his anti-social media stance and a lack of radio play, however, many hip-hop fans have been slow to embrace the words "J. Cole" and "legend" in the same sentence.
That should end this coming week.
According to HDD, Cole's brand new album, 4 Your Eyez Only, is slated to debut at No. 1 next week with a projected 550-575k SPS (sales plus streaming), which trails only Drake (1.04 million) and Beyoncé (653k) for the largest first-week debut in 2016.
Currently, the album sits at No. 1 on the iTunes album chart, while five of the top ten records on the iTunes Top Rap and Hip-Hop Songs chart belongs to the Fayetteville, North Carolina native.
Drake is unquestionably the most popular artist on the planet, but J. Cole's latest sales achievement—with zero radio records, no major marketing, and an announcement a week before the release date—proves he's more than worthy of his contemporary's lofty praise.