Even as one of the most successful and richest rappers out, J. Cole remains a man of the people. Who else among his peers would pull a charitable stunt like not only rapping over a YouTube producer’s beat for a loosie release, but allowing the song to live on their channel even?
It’s been awhile since we heard from new bars from Cole, who had a stellar spring with exemplary, year-end-list-worthy feature verses on songs like Benny the Butcher’s “Johnny P’s Caddy,” Bia’s “London,” and YG’s “Scared Money.” But on Wednesday night a new song appeared out of nowhere—more specifically, on producer Bvtman’s YouTube page along with a text message from Cole that gives some welcome context.
The story goes, on a particularly unproductive studio day, Cole turned to YouTube and actually searched “J. Cole type beat.” (The practice of “insert-artist type beats” is a long-running one on the platform wherein up-and-coming producers make instrumentals that hew close to the artist in question’s signature sound.) Bvtman’s Cole-esque beat was the first Cole saw, and it turned out to be exactly the type of beat to spark some creativity in him. “On a day when I couldn’t find much motivation, I was looking for anything to inspire me,” Cole wrote to Bvtman. “Out of curiosity, I typed in ‘J. Cole type beat’ into YouTube. Yours was the first I saw. I pressed play, focused, and wrote this.”
In true J. Cole fashion, the subtext becomes real text on the track, which finds him rapping about trying to sound as hungry and inspired on new music while he pushes the Lambo truck as he did when he actually had to worry about meals. While it may sound like a typical introspective J. Cole album cut, he stresses that it’s a one-off, the type of song he’d record and then hide in a vault forever, of which there are hundreds more like it. “I don’t even know if somebody gon hear this/got so many songs that get lost in the endless folders of the hard drive/I wish I was more fearless.” But, as the song’s title teases, he does go out of his way to mention “finishing this album.” Cole has long hinted that he’ll retire with a project called The Fall Off, a trajectory that 2021’s The Off Season set the stage for. But he’s also teased various other project titles that have other concepts, like It’s a Boy.
We’ll see how long his procrastination lasts, but until then get your new Cole fix on Bvtman’s page, per the Fayetteville rapper’s wishes. As Cole wrote to the producer, “This song should live on your channel and serve as a thank you to you and every producer out there cooking up and sharing their work with the world… God bless bro and keep doing what you do!”