• Record Label: RCA
  • Release Date: Sep 27, 2011
Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 20
  2. Negative: 0 out of 20
  1. Sep 26, 2011
    80
    Take a couple listens, let it sink in, and then discover that Cole World is one hell of a debut.
  2. Oct 19, 2011
    70
    Despite the flaws, Cole shapes up his debut to be a well-rounded effort.
  3. Oct 13, 2011
    70
    Cole's flow is constantly on point and the production is frequently quite beautiful, making Cole World not quite the genre-defining release fans were anticipating but certainly a perfect transition for hip-hop from a scorching summer of bangers to the more introspective autumn.
  4. Sep 30, 2011
    61
    It doesn't help that Cole brings the least-flavorful bars of his career to his debut, aiming, most likely, for something more universal than his diaristic mixtapes. The few glints we get of his personal life are intriguing.
  5. Sep 27, 2011
    70
    If he evens out the ratio of from-the-heart shit to smart shit, Cole could be great.
  6. Oct 4, 2011
    67
    The album is a true extension of Cole's mix-tapes, the product of an adroit lyricist still unsure how to fully capitalize on his talents.
  7. 83
    Cole World: The Sideline Story is a well-rounded effort, and deeper than most.
  8. 70
    It's a few outstanding moments short of the masterpiece many fans were expecting, but it clarifies that Cole has officially arrived as a major player in rap--at last.
  9. Sep 29, 2011
    80
    At times, the mid-tempo brooding gets a bit monotonous, but Cole is an engaging enough character to make this a solid debut.
  10. Sep 26, 2011
    60
    Amply stocked with warmth and charisma, the only thing Cole World really wants for is the kind of out-of-the-park highlight that would pull the whole album together; as is, it shows off the scattered but considerable strengths of a talented rookie whose potential for long-term success is palpable.
  11. Oct 5, 2011
    75
    Like his rhyming, his production is sophisticated, earnest, and maybe could benefit from a dose of rawness.
  12. Nov 4, 2011
    70
    Cole World reveals its maker to be a technically superb rapper with great production skills, albeit currently exploring rags-to-riches tales lacking in consistent vigour.
  13. Sep 27, 2011
    80
    The story goes that Jay-Z told Cole he had his whole life to make his debut album. Cole may have taken that literally, but it was worth it.
  14. Sep 26, 2011
    63
    The result of all that experience is the satisfying confidence with which J. Cole delivers his rhymes, in many cases over slickly inventive beats he crafted himself....But J. Cole's early-onset veteran status also saps some of the energy you'd hope to hear on a debut as feverishly anticipated as this one.
  15. We got an album entirely thrown on the shoulders of the cub, and like a growing king, J. Cole actually pulled it off, but scope, cohesiveness, and focus couldn't help but become somewhat lost in the disarray.
  16. Sep 27, 2011
    70
    Cole World does end up as a good debut.
  17. Sep 26, 2011
    70
    J. Cole's debut album has flaws just as others' rookie seasons did, but Cole World: Sideline Story definitely proves that he deserves a prominent spot on the team.
  18. He's worth the shot Jay couldn't resist giving him. But he's still not comfortable enough or clever enough.
  19. Sep 27, 2011
    80
    A very strong debut album from J. Cole.
  20. Sep 22, 2011
    70
    Cole World is full of evidence that when Cole sits down to write a hit, he mysteriously loses that intangible quality that first earned him these weighty expectations.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 126 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 41
  2. Negative: 2 out of 41
  1. Sep 27, 2011
    10
    If you remove your expectations before popping your headphones in, you will be amazed by the profound lyricism and talent of J. Cole. If youIf you remove your expectations before popping your headphones in, you will be amazed by the profound lyricism and talent of J. Cole. If you came in expecting to be blown away, chances are you will also emerge in awe of Cole's skill. The more you can relate to his songs, the deeper the connection and the more profound the appreciation you will develop. I don't know what constitutes a classic, but I will definitely be playing this album 10 years from now, along with College Dropout and Late Registration. Hopefully Cole can be this generation's Kanye - without the arrogant demeanor. A+ Full Review »
  2. Sep 27, 2011
    10
    This is album is sick! I used to think Drake and Kid Cudi were the cream of the crop, but I was wrong all along. Cole is the embodiment ofThis is album is sick! I used to think Drake and Kid Cudi were the cream of the crop, but I was wrong all along. Cole is the embodiment of pure rap. He may not have the greatest hooks for radio play, or the catchiest beats, but he makes up for that with his unparalleled rapping skills. There will always be a few people who will hate, especially given the lofty expectations placed on J. Cole; however, Cole World has shown he is ready to not only become the face of rap for this generation, bu, perhaps, one of the all-time greats. Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye, Naz and Tupac need company. Full Review »
  3. Sep 27, 2011
    10
    JCole really impressed me this debut. Almost all the songs are great. My personal favorite is Breakdown, as I can relate alot to it. It mayJCole really impressed me this debut. Almost all the songs are great. My personal favorite is Breakdown, as I can relate alot to it. It may not be the next Illmatic, but it's still the best mainstream debut album since College Dropout. Full Review »