25 Best J Cole Songs EVER

Best J Cole Songs

J. Cole is one of the most popular and prolific wrappers of the 21st century. His music career spans more than a decade, and he has dropped some absolute fire tracks. In order to celebrate his success, I’ve compiled a list of the best J Cole songs.

“Middle Child” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2019

This track by J. Cole is an absolute banger. The slowly building beat and the trumpets at the opening of this song underscore the message that J. Cole is about to deliver. This song gives credit to J. Cole’s influences and puts a target on J. Cole’s haters.

Additionally, J. Cole discusses the loneliness of his fame. Although he has achieved great success, his community is raked by crime and the prison industrial system. His success feels a bit empty because he cannot share his success with everyone in his community.

“Wet Dreamz” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2014

This song was J. Cole’s debut single and dropped before J. Cole was a household name. It didn’t get a ton of attention at the time of its release, but it has risen in visibility as Cole has garnered the attention of a larger audience. Although some have criticized the explicit lyrics in the song, the content offers a look into J. Cole’s experience of losing his virginity.

In addition to offering an intimate look into J. Cole’s past, the song also provides social commentary on the pressure that young men face to seem good in bed despite their lack of experience. This song combines many of J. Cole’s finest attributes, openness/vulnerability, storytelling, and lyricism. This single is undoubtedly one of the best of J Cole songs.

“Apparently” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2014

The introduction to this song is one of J. Cole’s most iconic. The piano cords followed by J. Cole’s croons grab your attention immediately. You know this track is going to drag up some feels. Until this point in J. Cole’s career, he had stayed relatively traditional in his rap music. J. Cole changes it up and shows a more introspective side which became his calling card.

Many of J. Cole’s future songs followed in this vein, and this trend-setting song deserves to be considered one of the best J Cole songs.

This song is self-produced and self-written and was nominated for a Grammy. This encapsulates what makes J. Cole so great. He has his style, does things his way, and has experienced tremendous success from staying true to himself. This story about J. Cole’s journey from boy to man is one of his best. Add in his intricate verses at the song’s end, which is iconic.  

“She Knows” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2013

This J. Cole track deals with one of the messier parts of romantic relationships, which are different expectations. It is clear that Cole struggles with a woman who wants to settle down with him, but he isn’t ready. He views the relationship differently than she does. As a result, he is seeing other women, and at the end of the day, he is left wondering if his girl is seeing other men.

“G.O.M.D.” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2014

The lyrical intro to this J. Cole track is mesmerizing. The chanting draws your attention until J. Cole hits you with his verse. On the surface, the message is to leave Cole alone. However, as you listen to the lyrics and J. Cole’s story, it becomes apparent that J. Cole is speaking in satire. The lyrics are calling out society and our individualism.

J. Cole is calling for unity and togetherness. Rather than focusing on what makes us different, we should focus on what makes us similar.

“Power Trip” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2013

This track was a departure from J. Cole’s earlier work. Young Cole was a confident—bordering on cocky—rapper, but this track was something completely different. In staying true to himself, J. Cole changed what people thought rap music could sound like. J. Cole’s use of Hubert Law’s jazz flute completely changed the vibe of this song for the better. 

The combination of J. Cole and Miguel is soothing but emotional, and their collaboration produced something extraordinary. This track is easily one of the best J Cole songs. It deserves a second, third, and fourth listen. It seems like you get a little bit more of J. Cole’s somber message each time. 

“Can’t Get Enough” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2011

This track was the second single off of J. Cole’s debut album. Like many of J. Cole’s early songs, it failed to generate the attention it deserved. However, this banger went platinum five years after being released after many of J. Cole’s newer fans listened to his older music.

This track is typical of J. Cole’s earlier braggadocious songs. He raps about his popularity with the ladies and how, despite his reputation, other women want his attention and time. Although this track strays from J. Cole’s storytelling, it does demonstrate his lyricism and rapping ability. 

“Let Nas Down” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2013

This track combines J. Cole’s storytelling with his vulnerability and openness. Nas is one of J. Cole’s idols, and in the period of time leading up to the release of the single “Work Out,” Cole had met Nas. Nas was disappointed by the poppiness of “Work Out,” and when J. Cole heard this news, he was devastated.

J. Cole raps about the range of emotions he felt: sadness, disappointment, anger, and frustration. He continues to discuss the challenge of idols becoming your peers.  

“Crooked Smile” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2013

This J. Cole’s song uses the powerful voices of T-Boz and TLC to bring a friendly and uplifting vibe. In this track, J. Cole forgoes traditional rap topics to discuss beauty standards, particularly those applied to women. He takes quite a wholesome perspective, sharing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

In this track, J. Cole pays homage to the women who have looked beyond his physical and emotional imperfections to support him. He expresses to the world just how beautiful the women in his life are and how much they mean to him. This wholesome perspective is not often seen in modern rap and, based on the topic alone, this track belongs in the list of the best J Cole songs.

In addition to his commentary about beauty standards, J. Cole dives into policing in America and how it affects the black community. All in all, this J. Cole track hits on so many different critical social issues that it is impossible to ignore.

“Work Out” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2011

This hot track was J. Cole’s first platinum record. It was so hot that it went platinum twice. It hails from his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story. When it dropped, it took over the airwaves of New York City before conquering the world. It is a unique track that blends beautiful piano cords with synthesized beats.

This is one of J. Cole’s most iconic records and deserves consideration for being one of the best J Cole songs. This feel-good story has a great beat and is easy to relate to. Few would believe the heights that J. Cole would reach when they first heard this track. But the rest is history.

“No Role Modelz” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2014

The opening line to this track is one of J. Cole’s most iconic. It pays homage to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star James LaRue Avery’s passing. This opening line is some of what makes J. Cole so great. Despite his fame, fortune, and talent, he is still influenced by the same pop culture that his fans connect to. His “everyman” attitude makes him more relatable to his fans.

Before this song, J. Cole had amazed the rap community with his lyrical skill. However, this track brought out another side of J. Cole. He demonstrated his tongue-in-cheek and observant side. Instead of talking about his own life, he offers social commentary on female role models and the influencer culture that took the world by storm. 

“In the Morning” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2011

This mellow track is from J. Cole’s mixtape Friday Night Lights. This song was released early in J. Cole’s career, but that didn’t stop J. Cole from collaborating with Drake. Drake was a more established artist but still on the come-up.

This track is a romantic ode to the remarkable woman in their life, and it brought out the best in both artists. In my opinion, this was the beginning of J. Cole’s come-up, and for that reason, it deserves a spot on the list of the best J Cole songs.

“False Prophets” By J. Cole

“False Prophets” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2016

After the release of “No Role Modelz,” it seemed like J. Cole was rapidly climbing to the top of the rap game. However, he went dark and released a few singles here and there until he dropped this track. In his follow-up to one of his greatest hits, J. Cole reflects on the current state of the rap game.

He laments how rap is losing touch with its artistic roots and is becoming more fueled by hype and popularity. Ironically, he is calling out the rap game right after dropping one of his biggest hits. That being said, his rhymes are still fire, and the controversy behind this track makes it one of the best J Cole songs.

“Love Yourz” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2014

This early J. Cole track demonstrates that sometimes simplicity is all you need to produce a great song. The beat features some simple piano chords, and J. Cole does the rest. J. Cole raps about loving your own life and expresses that the rich and famous lifestyle is not what Instagram paints it out to be. His message throughout the track is that no one should be ashamed of their current circumstance.

This track demonstrates J. Cole’s genius. Despite his wealth, fame, and success, he does not see the world through rose-colored glasses. He sees the struggles and hardships of his fans and community at large. He ends the song with a reminder that there will always be a nicer car, a wealthier person, but you won’t be happy until you love your own life. This song is sage advice from one of the greatest rappers out there. 

“Lost Ones” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2011

This track is one of J. Cole’s best forays into dialogue rap. The beat and production will not blow you away, but Cole’s storytelling and hard-hitting lyrics will. This song dives into the challenges of young adult pregnancy. Cole tells the story from both the man and woman’s perspective and raps their feelings and concerns regarding the pregnancy.

J. Cole manages to turn his lyrics into a conversation that many young people have to have. The ability to take an everyman problem and tell that story using his lyrical mastery is what makes J. Cole one of the greatest rappers alive.   

“Runaway” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2013

This single is another example of J. Cole’s willingness to dive into people’s complex problems. In this track, Cole contemplates the question of committing to a serious relationship or continuing to sleep around. He provides his insight and demonstrates his feeling with the back and forth nature of the song.

J. Cole doesn’t make a choice or take a stand in the song. Instead, he allows his audience to come to their conclusions based on the tough questions that he asks through verse. This is one of J. Cole’s most philosophical songs and deserves its spot on the best J Cole songs list.

“Fire Squad” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2014

This hard-hitting track is from Cole’s 2014 album Forest Hills Drive. The song calls out J. Cole’s doubters and people who chose mediocrity over greatness. Beyond stinging lyrics targeted at his critics, J. Cole also discusses challenging topics like American slavery and how this topic is relatively ignored in the national discourse.

Finally, J. Cole reminisces over the rap of prior eras while warning of the pitfalls of ignoring the past. This is a thought-provoking song that is more aggressive than some of J. Cole’s other tracks.

“Neighbors” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2016

Before J. Cole even drops a verse, you know this song will be a banger. With its 808s and snares, the beat immediately puts you in a vibe. Despite the modern vibe of the beat, J. Cole goes back to his storytelling roots to share a real-life story about his own life and offer some social commentary while he is at it.

In this song, J. Cole raps about a police raid on his house in North Carolina. His neighbors thought J. Cole and his friends were selling drugs out of this house. Ironically, J. Cole used this house as a spot for the Dreamville crew to get together and collaborate.

The SWAT raid found nothing in the house, but J. Cole uses this story as an opportunity to discuss the black experience in America and how the preconceived his neighbors have of black men led to a potentially dangerous confrontation with police. The social commentary of this track makes it one of the best J Cole songs. 

“p r i d e . i s . t h e . d e v i l” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2021

“p r i d e . i s . t h e . d e v i l” is from J. Cole’s album The Off-Season. Like most of J. Cole’s albums, this one is absolute fire. What I love the most about this song is how reflective and vulnerable J. Cole is. This has always been one of his best skills as a rapper, but it shines through in this song. J. Cole is open and honest about the changes in the rap game and his popularity.

Lil’ Baby drops some fire on this track, too, but J. Cole’s verse is the star of the show. The creativity and openness of this track make it one of the best J Cole songs.

“Three Wishes” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2017

This J. Cole track features one of the smoothest beats that he has used. It has a soulful feel with some ethereal accents. Like most of J. Cole’s great tracks, this song is defined by his storying telling. He revisits the popular topic of relationships and the challenges people face in them.

This song tells the story of three different people in romantic relationships. Each person is making wishes about their relationship and their significant other. This song reflects the unspoken reality that exists in many romantic relationships.   

“a m a r i” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2021

After the release of KOD, many of J. Cole’s fans thought that his use of modern rap trends was a thinly veiled mockery. J. Cole quickly put that rumor to bed. This song from The Off-Season uses many of the newer elements of the rap game. The use of the guitar in the beat is one of them.

This song demonstrates J. Cole’s greatness. He can transcend eras and production styles and continue to produce lyrically intricate and moving music. This song is a celebration of where J. Cole started and how far he has made it.

“Lights Please” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2011

This is the song that set J. Cole’s career is on fire. In addition to the excellent production and execution on Cole’s part, the song has a powerful message about J. Cole’s experience as a rapper and the rap game. The track focuses on the unsavory women he met as a rapper. Although his lyrics emphasize his own life and experience, the song can be seen as a critique of the rap game. 

J. Cole’s excellent lyrics and delivery play out over a smooth and welcoming soul track. Despite its age, this song is still worth a listen and hits just as hard as some of Cole’s newer material. It absolutely deserves consideration as one of the best J Cole songs.

“4 Your Eyes Only” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2016

This track is the outro and title song of the album. In an era when songs rarely last more than 3 minutes, this track runs a whopping 9 minutes. This is J. Cole’s storytelling at its finest and pays homage to a dead friend and his daughter.

Cole’s lyrics evoke a roller coaster of emotion as he discusses the challenges of his hometown and the struggle of raising a child while single and poor. The entire album was dedicated to this slain friend, and Cole couldn’t have closed the album any better.

Despite the song and the album being dedicated to his slain friend, J. Cole’s own life has many parallels. This song offers a peek into J. Cole’s soul and his own experiences growing up. The vulnerability and openness that J. Cole exhibits in this track make it one of the best J Cole songs.

“Dollar & A Dream II” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2007

This song reflects on the compliments that J. Cole is receiving as he gathers more and more attention. He references how people see him as the future and applaud him for staying true to rap’s roots. This song tackles the complex topic of labels and the gray area between black and white. While most people choose to see the black or white, J. Cole sees that the gray is the reality.

This song also discusses racial tension in the United States and the impact that it continues to have on black Americans. This song is one of the best J cole songs because it blends social commentary with storytelling. 

“1985” By J. Cole

Song Year: 2018

This track pays homage to the year that J. Cole was born and the influence that the 1980s and 1990s had on him. This song is the outro to the KOD album and was one of the most controversial songs on the album. Some of the new era rappers, including Lil Pump, had made diss tracks aimed at Cole. J. Cole did not respond directly until this song.

This song offers a critique of modern rap and how it has strayed from its origins, the same roots that J. Cole seeped in as he was growing up. In addition to giving his perspective and advice, Cole mixes in some backhanded compliments and disses. He ends the song by asserting his greatness and dissing his younger competitors. 

Top J Cole Songs, Final Thoughts

All of the songs on this list of the best J Cole songs are absolute fire. I hope you take the time to enjoy each one of them and listen to the lyrics to appreciate Cole’s message. Many other J. Cole songs deserve attention, as well. If J. Cole inspires you to join the music industry, believe in yourself and find the proper support to make your dreams come true.

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One Comment

  1. Wow!! I only clicked on this link to see if I would know all the songs and to be honest I know 24 songs on this list by heart… every damn word! You are a true J cole fan! The only one I didn’t even know was three wishes!

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