No one questions J. Cole's proficiency as a rapper. Some of his best work, especially looking at his guest features, is the result of Cole stripping away concepts and the lofty rapper-producer title and focusing exclusively on spitting. Thankfully, he knows this well.
"But, for at least the next month or two, I don’t even want to make no beats," he told XXL. "I just want to rap. For the first time, I’ve been able to focus on that for the most part."
Cole's recent appearances on J.I.D's DiCaprio 2 and 6LACK's East Atlanta Love Letter have been necessary and show-stealing, and his T-Minus-produced single "Middle Child," released January 23, marks his highest charting single (No. 4) to date on the Billboard Hot 100.
Cole is aware of his feature presence as well, adding: "Say yes to features. Step outside of my comfort zone. And it’s still going. I’m trying to level up this year on the features."
Level up he has. Good for J. Cole for being able to step back and retool his strengths at a point in his career where he could honestly drop anything and have his rabid fanbase eat it up. It's always redeeming to see artists interested in growth, even when they're well established.