Cole World: The Sideline Story Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 107 Ratings

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  • Summary: After making three successful mixtapes, the rapper releases his debut studio album featuring guest appearances from Drake, Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, and Trey Songz.
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. Sep 27, 2011
    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.
  3. Sep 29, 2011
    At times, the mid-tempo brooding gets a bit monotonous, but Cole is an engaging enough character to make this a solid debut.
  4. Sep 26, 2011
    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.
  5. Oct 13, 2011
    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.
  6. 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.
  7. Sep 26, 2011
    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.

See all 20 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. Sep 27, 2011
    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? Expand
  2. Sep 29, 2011
    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. Expand
  3. Sep 27, 2011
    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 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
  4. Jul 21, 2013
    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. Expand
  5. Oct 3, 2011
    Such a fantastic first album for J. Cole. I was personally impressed with the album, since his hit song on the radio is "Work Out" which to me doesn't even compare to most of the other songs on the album (in fact, "Work Out" is a bonus song which i think is fitting). J. Cole seems to be an excellect story-teller and when he just wants to rhyme on a beat, he kills it. My personal favorites are "Dollar and a Dream 3", "Cole World", "Lost Ones", and "Rise and Shine". However, i think that every song on this album is very good for not just J. Cole, but for any rapper. Already can't wait for what he has in store for us next. Expand
  6. Sep 28, 2011
    j.Cole has arrived officially that is.Its a solid debut but he could have reached out to more experienced producers to help him, stand out tracks are 'Lost ones' and 'Lights please'. I expect more from his sophomore album great future ahead. Expand
  7. Jun 18, 2013
    The only pro of this album is the fact I never have to go to a drug store again to get some nyquil. So the $10 I paid for this album will pay itself back. Expand

See all 38 User Reviews