Breakdown: J. Cole’s two new songs The Climb Back & Lion King on Ice

On a quiet Tuesday afternoon J. Cole took to Twitter to announce two new songs dropping the very next day.

The two songs “The Climb Back” & “Lion King on Ice” will be the lead singles for his new album The Fall Off, which has no current release date. The songs are produced by himself , with help on one from T-Minus & Jetsonmade.

Before the announcement, Cole shared with us a written piece about his life and career over the years via Players Tribune. He opens up about his personal life, struggles, retirement, and the future. It’s a very great read for fans or anyone wanting to be inspired.

Coming fresh off his new song “Snow On Tha Bluff” and Dreamville Compilation album Revenge Of The Dreamers III, Cole is in his bag once again. Delivering with top tier lyricism. He dips into his singing vibe a bit too, across both songs he sings for 38% of the time according to @HipHopNumbers on Twitter. The internet reacted very well to the singles as they were trending within minutes and #1 on Apple Music charts. The traffic was so busy, the songs actually crashed on Spotify all night until they fixed it in the morning. The expectations are high for him this deep into his career, but he has the talent and ability to make something special.

“The Climb Back” is a 5 minute song about Cole’s journey back to his love of hip-hop and personal experiences. The song is flooded with bars as Cole flows over his own production. The beat has trap sounding drums with female vocals looped in the background with piano runs as well. The hook sings out “Everything come back around full circle, why do lies sound pleasant, but the truth hurtful?”. 

  • “And you’ll see how i flip, like exclamation points”. Cole spits this clever bar right at the beginning of the song, pretty simple that the letter “i” and an exclamation point are flipped to be the same thing. 
  • Cole continues talking his shit saying, “address me as the goat, like they call Chief Keef Sosa.”
  • Cole says, “Gotta know the ropes and the protocol, or they gon’ for sure blow your clothes half off like a promo code”. He’s saying you gotta know street code or else you’ll get shot while using a metaphor with clothing sales. 
  • “I’m sendin’ a warnin’, a problem with me is like the BET hip-hop awards. I’m startin’ to see you n***** don’t want it.” Cole finds a simularity in people not wanting problems with him and people not wanting the BET hip-hop awards.
  • “He became addicted to clout and all the hoes we’d meet, I slowly peeped jealousy on his breath whenever he spoke to me, Like on the low, he feelin’ that in my shoes is where he supposed to be.” Cole speaks on a unidentified friend who was clout chasing and jealous of his position. Rappers or anyone with fame deal with this all the time, he says that he could feel the energy of the person and had to leave them behind. 
  • Throughout the song Cole speaks on violence and street culture giving his perspective on different topics, he says here, “More death than World War II caused. Around these parts we pour the brown just to drown these thoughts. Of black corpses in county morgues, Lord, those images hauntin’.”
  • On the outro of the song Cole mentions how we have suicide hotlines, but none for homicide. And you might think, isn’t that the police? But Cole is saying that you can’t call the police because they can’t be trusted or depended on especially in the projects. “Everybody mentions suicide prevention. Man, they even made a hotline. To call up when there’s tension, but I got a question. What about a fuckin’ homicide?”

“Lion King on Ice” brings back J. Cole’s alter ego Young Simba as seen in his previous trilogy of songs “Simba”, “Return Of Simba” & “Grown Simba”. He raps from the perspective of his younger self talking about his childhood and rise into the rap game. The beat is produced by Cole, T-Minus, & Jetsonmade, it’s very similar to the first one with female vocals and trap drums. 

  • Cole raps these bars talking about youth in the streets selling drugs and carrying guns. He makes a quick entendre meaning both pencil lead for an exam and bullets in a mag. “Where my young n***** choppin’ up grams. And them choppers won’t pry from they hands. Packin’ lead like they got a exam.”
  • Cole lists off a bunch of goals he had coming into his fame and his rap career. “Gotta move mama from out them apartments. Gotta put ‘Ville on the map, we forgotten. Gotta hit hoes you hang up in your locker. Gotta get rich, ’cause my granny picked cotton. Gotta make hits, ’cause if not, then I’m floppin’. Gotta stay me in the process.”
  • “I tried to warn n***** they wouldn’t last long. I hope that you see how they came and they went.” Cole is addressing his past statements about Lil Pump and such rappers in his song “1985” on KOD. He predicted that their success and hype would die out and would be left with nothing, which ended up actually happening. 
  • Cole speaks on the pressures to fit in with famous lifestyles like expensive clothing styles and flexing jewelry. “N***** wanted me to look the part, had to stop takin’ advice, Put the jewelry to the side, had to find me, had to find God.”
  • In the final verse, Cole reflects on times where he was weak, but claims he’s stronger than ever. “Lately, I reflect on the times a n***** was low. I got it up off the floor, I’m stronger than ever before.”

What I took from these two songs is that J. Cole is one of the best rappers of his generation and of all-time. His wordplay and lyrical performance is at it’s peak again, feeling vibes from Friday Night Lights. As The Fall Off approaches my expectations are higher than ever, I think it could be his best work to date. We’ll just have to wait and see

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