After not releasing anything or even appearing anywhere major since the release and activity of KOD, this track was a surprise to a lot of people including myself.
“Middle Child” has so much substance it’s crazy. The title “Middle Child” should be taken quite literally. The beat, I didn’t care for at first, but then I noticed that there was a sample on a track that could’ve just as well been made for the hottest Twitter star this week. The track is quite literally the middle child between the Atlanta “trap drums,” and a trumpet from a 70s soul single by First Choice.
Cole mixed the present musical trends with old soul values of hip-hop with the genius instruction of T Minus. T Minus and his production skills were essential to the prime YMCMB sound. I’m talking from “The Motto,” “She Will,” and “HYFR.” He also produced the Kendrick Lamar classic, “Swimming Pools.”
In addition to the production and track itself, the lyrical content of the song is really important and surprisingly unique. If y’all can name a song that gives a head nod to the Golden Era, and the “internet sensations” that we have today, please let me know. But I know music, and I know that there isn’t a song that critically congratulates the old heads and those artists coming up now.
What many fail to realize is that hip-hop is still fairly young. It’s only been 45 years since the first two disco tracks were spun and mixed to make a breakbeat in the Bronx. Like all things, hip-hop has changed and forever continues to do so. Surprisingly, in my eyes, hip-hop has only had three to four generations of artists, and that’s including everyone who only remembers vinyl. J Cole is a great artist not only because of his musicality and lyrical ability, but because he truly understands what hip-hop is.
By Shay Goodwin, Freshman, Tougaloo College