• Puneet Sharma

Why J Cole and Kendrick Shouldn't Collaborate

Talented rappers J Cole and Kendrick Lamar have been teasing a collaborative album for some time now. It has been over two years since they first made a hint that they were working on a joint album. Initially, fans were very excited about the possibility of such a daring album but were disappointed to see a year go by without any word on its progress. That is of course until both Kendrick and J Cole released tracks entitled, “Black Friday” on each other’s respective labels. J Cole’s single ended with the cliff-hanger, “but this February bet s*** get scary when I f*** around and drop”. The implications of these lyrics set up a flurry of excitement amongst many J Cole and Kendrick fans. Yet as February came no collaborative album followed and fans were again left disappointed. The lack of an album as of yet has made fans wonder whether or not the album will ever be made. It also raises an important question: What is stopping J Cole and Kendrick from releasing this project?

After the release of Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive and the increase in public discussion regarding the treatment of African Americans, both J Cole and Kendrick gravitated towards each other as a result of having similar beliefs and values. Kendrick would release To Pimp a Butterfly later which would prove that both Kendrick and Cole were mainstream artists willing to express their emotions and dedicated to sparking change in society. It was around this time that the idea of a collaborative album between the artists became a reality. Due to their socially aware musical content, fans almost predicted that Cole and Kendrick would release something together and the excitement of the possibility was certainly felt by both artists. When asked, Cole and Kendrick had similar responses which did little to convince the public that an album was on the way but were vague enough to fuel the hype and anticipation of fans.

What is important to note is that although Kendrick and Cole didn’t diminish the idea of a collaborative album it does not mean that they truly intended to create it. Even if Cole and Kendrick do truly intend to create this project it will likely be released when they feel ready and not based off of the excitement of fans. With that being said, that doesn’t mean that Cole and Kendrick should sit back on a marvelous opportunity to progress their individual careers. Artists, especially mainstream artists, strive on public hype and anticipation. Playing out this rumor for as long as possible would do more to help these artists despite building hype and then disappointing fans.

The problem with building excitement for an album has one unavoidable conflict. An increase in hype and excitement leads to an increase in expectations. The more Kendrick and Cole tease the project the more people will expect from it. As a result, the album must be of high caliber and with two very intricate and perfectionist artists it would be hard to create such an album.

Of course among rap artists there is always a form of competition. J Cole’s January 28 can verify that. Both artists strive to create art which inspires the public and promotes action against issues in society. Yet upon releasing this album many fans will be more intrigued by which artist bodied each other on every track. This is not something these artists seem to desire given the nature of their lyrics and the messages they deliver in their songs. The issue is that although Cole and Kendrick preach similar messages the style with which they do so is very different. Consequently, competition is far too easy for fans and collaborating is that much harder.

The anticipation for this album is too large for Cole and Kendrick to ignore. As a result, they have teased fans and disappointed fans over and over. The longer they play with fans the greater the expectations and the harder it is for Cole and Kendrick to provide fans with a cohesive, balanced, and socially aware project. As time goes on the possibility for a collaborative album seems to decrease as Cole and Kendrick will feel the pressure of developing their next studio albums. The future doesn’t seem too bright for rap fans. Unless, of course, they release the album out of the blue.