This week's "Friday's Heat" features tracks from: J. Cole, Big Sean, Dave East, Alex Wiley, and Royce Da 5'9".
“High for Hours” by J. Cole
Oh, Jermaine. Jermaine, Jermaine, Jermaine. You’re too kind; a real mensch as us Jews would say. After dropping your insightful, vicarious voyage, 4 Your Eyez Only, on December 9th, you’ve bequeathed us a new single, “High for Hours.” As Chris Rock emphatically stated on “Blame Game’s” outro, “And I thank you, I thank you, my dick thanks you!” My dick thanks you, Cole.
Did you guys ever see that hilarious Daquan video of the kid shooting dice, wearing a du-rag, bumping 21 Savage, before his boy walks in saying that J. Cole’s about to drop a new album? Well if you haven’t, stop reading and go check that out ASAP. He sorrowly looks up at his friend in disbelief saying, “What? J. Cole? Jermaine? Cole? The real is back, the Ville is back, Flow bananas, peel this back?!” Well, that’s exactly how I feel right now—Jermaine?
Honoring MLK Day, J. Cole is in classic form on “High for Hours” by discussing societal limitations imposed on the Black community. He’s not mincing words—Cole is pissed, disappointed, but perhaps mostly, confused. Why are innocent Black lives still being claimed? Why does our society get wrapped up in a singular issue, and then seemingly forget about it just as fast as they advocated for it? Will there ever be an end to the senseless violence? J. Cole isn’t prepared to stop fighting, and neither should you. For now, let’s get high for hours and think about how we can positively affect change.
“Halfway Off The Balcony” by Big Sean
Back with another single off his upcoming album, I Decided, Big Sean connects on “Halfway Off The Balcony.” Providing a sonic and conceptual juxtaposition to his previously released trap-heavy single, “Moves,” “Halfway Off The Balcony” provides a laid back texture, accented by simplistic vocal instrumentals, that features Sean in perhaps his most mature, enlightened state.
After being around the scene for some time, Sean has grown desensitized to the industry’s previously enticing superficial allure—he’s realizing the beauty behind life’s most treasured possessions, like relationships and time. This epiphany causes the Detroit native to question his previous existence, desires, and aspirations, while navigating his future—and discovering what future he wants to step into.
We’re witnessing a Big Sean renaissance—one marked by introspection, reflection, growth, and confusion. He's now accustomed to being "Finally Famous," and he's ready to unleash his refined self. I think I Decided is going to be a momentous release for Sean, and I’m excited to witness his continued evolution.
“Push It (East Mix)” by Dave East
Dave East continues his meteoric rise in a hilarious fashion with his newest single, “Push it (East Mix).” Mocking Soulja Boy’s embarrassing live IG debacle of getting punked by the hood, East begins the video by proclaiming his hood allegiance, and getting quickly, and emphatically rejected.
Soulja Boy and Dave East present an interesting dichotomy: while both are from impoverished conditions, Soulja Boy has been famous and wealthy for 10-years; East is only recently emerging. And of course, there’s the looming fact that East is actually a very skilled writer and MC, whereas Soulja Boy is a joke. Dave East is doing the laughing now, as he deservedly brags about his new lavish lifestyle, while reminiscing on the suffering endured prior to his newfound success. Expecting big things for East in 2017.
“Quicksilver” by Alex Wiley featuring Kembe X and Mike Gao
Chicago’s well-kept secret, Alex Wiley, returns with his single, “Quicksilver,” off his newest Village Party iteration, Village Party III: Stoner Symphony. Uptempo production energizes the hit, providing Wiley and company an electrifying platform to effortlessly glide on.
Wiley has no qualms about letting listeners know that he’s feeling himself on this track. It almost sounds like he’s doing a victory lap, celebrating how far he’s come, his continued rise, and his limitless potential. After putting out a host of previous projects, Wiley is finally generating the buzz that he deserves—and he’s taking advantage of it. But don’t confuse his confidence with complacency—he’s still well aware of the uphill climb ahead of him; he’s just enjoying the journey to the top.
Village Party III: Stone Symphony is a solid addition to his deep catalogue, demonstrating his refined skill set while making his case for one of Hip Hop’s brighter emerging MCs.
“I Got The Keys (Remix)” by Royce Da 5’9”
Man, you’ve got to love a Royce Da 5’9” track—he seemingly always delivers. Even better, his newest track is a remix over Southside’s intoxicating instrumental for DJ Khaled’s, “I Got The Keys.” Honestly, I wasn’t really a fan of the original version. I think Jay, as legendary as he is, is so far past his prime and removed from his previous hustler lifestyle that everything he releases now sounds so disingenuous. He’s now like that quarter-full bottle of milk in your fridge that’s long expired, but you keep around because you’re either too lazy to dump it or just keep forgetting to throw it away. My apologies, Hov.
When placed in the right hands, Southside’s incredible beat is able to uninhibitedly shine. Royce Da 5’9” is the ray of light needed to illuminate the instrumental’s greatness. This remix shows Royce having fun, displaying his lyrical control, and begs the question, who really has the keys? Royce confidently raps how he’s comfortably in possession.