User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 113 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 96 out of 113
  2. Negative: 12 out of 113

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  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 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 aIf 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+ Expand
  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 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.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 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. Expand
  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 may not be the next Illmatic, but it's still the best mainstream debut album since College Dropout.
  4. N10
    Nov 15, 2011
    10
    Cole World: The Sideline Story!
    This is a really, really good debut album from J. Cole. Such a strong album, damn!
    This is a really talented rapper, and his second album is probably coming next year on summer. And I am really hyped for it. His lyrics is real, not like the most rappers now these day's.
    10 out of 10
  5. Sep 29, 2011
    10
    A great debut by J Cole. He keeps a kind of ying yang balance with the album perfectly balancing his fun singles and dramatic personal tracks to create a great album.
  6. Sep 27, 2011
    10
    This is the man who will save hip-hop. Such a strong album. All the tracks fit in with one another, and the deep tracks have that authentic Cole feel to them. And the new Dolla and A Dream is so good, did anyone else hear the Kingdom Hearts sample?
  7. Sep 28, 2011
    10
    just purchased this off itunes. it's a good debut...even bigger than drake's and big sean's debut. the anticipation was long but it lived up to the hype. i hope RocNation pushed this album...Breakdown best track on the album.
  8. Oct 4, 2011
    9
    In my opinion J Cole set the bar high for every new hip hop artist. Cole World is a well rounded album better than Thank Me Later , Man on The Moon, and Finally Famous. My personal favorite track s lost ones tells A GREAT story about abortion. i encourage people to hear this album is is hip hops best body of work following the R.E.D album
  9. Sep 28, 2011
    10
    Phenomenal album. Best album this year, almost on par with Watch the Throne, maybe better - I'm still debating that. Hip-hop needs a story-teller like this one. My only gripe is that his hits are poorly done. Work Out is the weakest song on the album yet he's placed it as the last song. Can't get enough is lyrically off, who says you have to drop lyricism to make a hit? Have you heardPhenomenal album. Best album this year, almost on par with Watch the Throne, maybe better - I'm still debating that. Hip-hop needs a story-teller like this one. My only gripe is that his hits are poorly done. Work Out is the weakest song on the album yet he's placed it as the last song. Can't get enough is lyrically off, who says you have to drop lyricism to make a hit? Have you heard Eminem's singles? He's at his best when he displays raw emotion, or he's just going off on a lyrical rage, both of which are commonly found on the album. Cole you almost made a classic, next album you better hit the bullseye - I'll be looking forward to it. Expand
  10. Nov 10, 2012
    10
    this album is incredible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! j cole is one of the best lyricist in the game right now as well as one of the hottest rapper to!!! just can't stop listening to MR. NICE WATCH AND NOBODY'S PERFECT!!! A dope album for a dope artiste!!!
  11. Oct 17, 2011
    10
    under-rated by professional music critics, best HIP-HOP album of the year so far by far, dont understand how tha carter 4 sold almost a million in its first week when this only sold 200,000 should have been the other way around
  12. Oct 7, 2011
    10
    Well, it's been a year I haven't listened to a great rap album ( the last one being "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy") and "Cole World: The Sideline Story" is just one of them. I've loved J. Cole since last year, when I've heard him for the first time with 'Young Simba'. I thought his flow was great. But he has changed, to better. His debut album is a great example of modern rap with aWell, it's been a year I haven't listened to a great rap album ( the last one being "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy") and "Cole World: The Sideline Story" is just one of them. I've loved J. Cole since last year, when I've heard him for the first time with 'Young Simba'. I thought his flow was great. But he has changed, to better. His debut album is a great example of modern rap with a 90's twist of hip hop. It's definitely the best debut album since 'College Dropout'. Every song sounds great. I haven't skip any track. I'm blown away. The album is well put together, and my favorite one is 'Dollar And a Dream' and 'Nobody's Perfect'. Best line so far: "This is for all the fans that waited, the **** **** that hated, old hoes we dated, look mama, we made it". I love that line. J. Cole will remain the rapper I'm looking forward the most, after Struka, of course. Expand
  13. Sep 28, 2011
    10
    This album is what Hip Hop is supposed to be. To get it, you need to go deeper than only the production, which by the way is on point. Obviously there's the fun songs, but there's also the deep and emotional songs speaking on subjects never heard before in rap. Best songs: Lost Ones, Breakdown, Lights Please, Dollar And A Dream III, Never Told, Rise And Shine (ok, gotta stop now before IThis album is what Hip Hop is supposed to be. To get it, you need to go deeper than only the production, which by the way is on point. Obviously there's the fun songs, but there's also the deep and emotional songs speaking on subjects never heard before in rap. Best songs: Lost Ones, Breakdown, Lights Please, Dollar And A Dream III, Never Told, Rise And Shine (ok, gotta stop now before I mention the whole album). We must also consider that this is a debut album. Cole has to please old fans, new fans and of course his record label. He's also young, so the following albums can only be even better. So buy this album. Ten times if you want. It's a Cole World. Expand
  14. Sep 28, 2011
    9
    When I heard this album, I was reminded of the myseducation of Lauryn Hill. That in itself warrants a great score. The album isn't perfect, but it is probably the best album I have heard this year.
  15. Oct 2, 2011
    10
    Great album with a variety of styles. J. Cole really widens his variety of rapping on this great debut album. From his heart-warming deep songs, to club-style hits, J. Cole releases a rare great debut album. A Classic.
  16. Oct 7, 2011
    10
    wasnt too sold on him before listening to this album..thought he was a bit preachy in some of his raps, not my style..That being said, I love this album. It started off a bit slow on songs 1-5 (besides Dollar & Dream)..but the second half is phenomenal.Also beats are hot, which J. Cole produced most himself. My favorite tracks, Gods Gift, Cole World, Rise & Shine & Nobody Perfect. Checkwasnt too sold on him before listening to this album..thought he was a bit preachy in some of his raps, not my style..That being said, I love this album. It started off a bit slow on songs 1-5 (besides Dollar & Dream)..but the second half is phenomenal.Also beats are hot, which J. Cole produced most himself. My favorite tracks, Gods Gift, Cole World, Rise & Shine & Nobody Perfect. Check this out if you like hip-hop. Expand
  17. Oct 25, 2011
    10
    This is the most complete album since Kanye's "The College Dropout." Cole World features all the necesary ingredients to become an instant classic, a masterpiece. I don't use this gently, but J. Cole fulfilled all expectations and brought the game back to its place. The album only has a mere 4 features which are all perfect. People need to stop comparing Cole to Drake. They're both great,This is the most complete album since Kanye's "The College Dropout." Cole World features all the necesary ingredients to become an instant classic, a masterpiece. I don't use this gently, but J. Cole fulfilled all expectations and brought the game back to its place. The album only has a mere 4 features which are all perfect. People need to stop comparing Cole to Drake. They're both great, Cole's WAY better, and Cole actually raps more than 50% of the time.

    Cole = Future
    Expand
  18. Oct 28, 2011
    10
    For a debut album, it was a strong performance. At times, it seems like standards weren't met, but some songs truly made up for it. Ladies and gentlemen, J Cole has arrived.
  19. Nov 15, 2011
    10
    Lyrically, this album is close to nothing that we've seen since Cole's last mixtape, 'Friday Night Lights.' For him to provide such insightful lyrics at the same time as maintaining such a steady and strong production from Cole is something that hardly ever occurs. THIS is what hip-hop is about.
  20. Jul 21, 2013
    9
    I really like this album, and I really like J. Cole. He is what rap music has been waiting for....for real, I can listen to it all the way through without skipping a song. That is when you know you've made a good album.
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. He's worth the shot Jay couldn't resist giving him. But he's still not comfortable enough or clever enough.
  2. 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.
  3. Oct 19, 2011
    70
    Despite the flaws, Cole shapes up his debut to be a well-rounded effort.