Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

J Cole: Truly Yours [free download EP, 2013]
Jay-Z's favorite conscious up-and-comer says these five tracks are rejects from the follow-up album he's now late on, and I'm impressed even though they ignore my advice as regards upping his game, which was to have more fun. No bangers here--everything is thoughtful and midtempo. But everything is also strong and engaging. Having set the tone by rescuing a gorgeous Lauryn Hill sample from terminal sanctitude, he calls out a lost stepfather he can't stop loving for hating, feels a single mother with six years of college, and examines hip-hop's contradictions from three distinct perspectives, one of which is ODB's. A-