The 25 Best J. Cole Guest Verses [Ranked]
Keith Nelson Jr .
Keith Nelson Jr. is a journalist who has covered rap, …
With J. Cole ending the decade by saying he won’t do any more guest verses, we went back over the last 10 years to pick his 25 best.
On September 20, 2019, at 12:42 PM eastern standard prison term, J. Cole retired …from rapping on other people ’ south songs. kind of .
This a award to be on this birdcall. NEW Gang Starr 🤯🤯🤯🤯 💎💎💎💎
This is the death feature you ’ ll hear from me. Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this play. 🙏🏿 @ REALDJPREMIER This song a authoritative, thank you. RIP GURU hypertext transfer protocol : //t.co/MMBI5Z2Fcq — J. Cole ( @ JColeNC ) September 20, 2019
After a year that saw the normally recluse MC play in the sandboxes of Offset, 21 feral, Ty Dolla $ ign, Rapsody, Young Thug, and a myriad of other artists, his storm appearance on “ Family and Loyalty ” — the first new Gang Starr record in 16 years — is when playtime ends. But 2019 international relations and security network ’ metric ton when he started washing people on their own songs .
With Cole ending the decade removing himself from collaboration consideration, Okayplayer went back over the last 10 years of his guest verses to pick his 25 best moments. now, something needs to be understand : This number is basically J. Cole five J. Cole. An immutable fact of when it ’ mho J. Cole volt J. Cole is that J. Cole will win and J. Cole will lose. J. Cole has besides many great guest verses for all of them to make the lead 25 .
With Cole ’ s reign as a guest verse cause of death apparently over, here are the 25 best times he hopped on person else ’ sulfur song .
25. Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole —“Temptation” (2011)
No, this birdcall was never formally released. No, there ’ s no audio of it outside of Kendrick Lamar playing it outside of a shop in early 2011. No, there ’ s no way a list of the 25 best J. Cole guest verses can be complete without this poetry ’ randomness inclusion. Off of the lore of it being the alone collaboration between good Kendrick and Cole during their ferocious mixtape eras, “ Temptation ” exists as a bathetic reminder of where two of hip-hop ’ randomness titans started from. besides, Cole saying a charwoman has a “ Gina face, Pam human body yttrium ” is up there with the best television reference compliments you can give .
24. DJ Khaled, J. Cole & Bas —“Hell’s Kitchen” (2013)
Finding ways to be transparent in self-aggrandizing rap verses is one of Cole ’ mho best talents. The verse off of DJ Khaled ’ s Suffering From Success album sounds barely like the album ’ s title — an artist battling the bouts of doubt attendant of fame. The same rapper who comes in passionately “ spinal column from the dead ” has his voice crumble about into tears speaking on his depression .
23. French Montana, J. Cole & Rick Ross —“Diamonds” (2012)
Cole found a way to fit his mark of witty, everyman rap into french Montana ’ sulfur 2012 birdcall about materialism without sounding like a square. Cole said he “ went to school with nigger, snatched their bitch, then tutored niggas, ” like the cool nerd he was early in his career. Add that to bars like “ Made to ball like a goalkeeper net ” and “ Ducking the devil, I guess you can say I live my life in limbo ” and you have one of his best club-ready verses .
22. Bas, KQuick & J. Cole — “Lit” (2013)
Go to any Bas express where this song is performed and you can find a person from the crowd who will rap every single word. There ’ second a youthful earnestness to a verse that feels perpetually relatable, down to the presentation of him figuring out the presentation. In the context of a poetry where Cole admits to placid not making it, him musing about the different types of women he ’ randomness been with sounds reflective preferably than sexually vapid. His stream is Ginsu abrupt and “ another shoot of Henny so I ’ molarity faded asking how long does this drug called fame be survive ” is one of the best endings to a J. Cole guest verse ever .
21. Cozz & J. Cole — “Zendaya” (2018)
On Cozz ’ “ Zendaya, ” Cole never raps to the hearer. Thoughts of absentee fathers, the Grammy ’ s relevance and wishing to speak with his grandma sound like more than digressive observations. They sound like the therapeutic unclutter of a torture mind. That ’ s all feels apparent before he lets it be known that “ music is my therapy. ”
20. Bas & J. Cole — “My Nigga Just Made Bail” (2014)
When Cole feels vitamin a barren as he does on beats adenine breezy as “ My Nigga Just Made Bail ” he ’ s specially unpredictable with his bars. Cole may have predicted the tendency of people selling on-line subscriptions to their aphrodisiac photos and videos with what he told that insecure daughter on this verse in 2014. Either way, Cole delivered one of his many standout guest verses that took on a life of its own .
19. J. Cole & Wale — “Winter Schemes” (2013)
No concept. No chorus. fair about two minutes of straight discussion genius from Cole on this loosie track from 2013. How can this not make the list when he “ saw you sorting through trash and brought change for you ? ” But it ’ s actually when he pulls the curtain rear on the fame he ’ mho exposed to that this verse becomes a piece more particular than a lyrical exercise. It ’ s his compulsive transparency that gave us gems like him riding about in cars that weren ’ t his in Beyonce ’ s “ Party ” music video recording and JAY-Z ’ label giving him a “ faint buttocks advance. ” Cole has a way of making you believe everything he says. ( Except we still don ’ t have the Warm Up 2. )
18. Big K.R.I.T. & J. Cole — “Prove It” (2019)
On this song, the travel rapidly of Cole ’ s hang helps make his inner conflict — between fearing oversaturation but understanding putting out music is how you maintain reverence — feel closely cinematic. That preference for disingenuous foil reappears and Cole defies the conventions of the traditional knocker. How many rappers would dedicate the majority of an extensive verse to show admiration to a fan for their decade of commitment ? probably not many with Cole ’ south success, which makes this have on Big K.R.I.T. ’ s K.R.I.T. IZ HERE album one of a kind .
17. Gang Starr & J. Cole — “Family and Loyalty” (2019)
even an healthy wordsmith like Cole has lusted over the materialism of life in the past. The same rapper who said “ all I wan sodium do is ball on television receiver, meet ESPN ” in 2009 is eschewing diamonds in favor of “ investing in urban sections where depression rules ” on this Gang Starr collaboration. There ’ mho a grim ardor to the cognition he ’ mho dropping. He gives college crash courses on the ills of westerly civilization and the contributions of Black people while calm finding time to denounce modem mobsters and on-line gangsters. But, most impressively, the elect rapper was able to blend his new school manner with Guru ’ s old school vibration without either feeling anachronic of either era, proving skills are dateless .
16. Ari Lennox & J. Cole — “Shea Butter Baby” (2019)
Cole was poetry-night snap on this joint. He paints denotative images of Black sensuality with inconspicuous ink lone discernible by those in the know. Taking sips of her “ holy water ” hits different after Cole is “ licking her places you lick when you rock with her forever. ” Love taking a nibble of person ’ s person hits deeper when Cole “ hopes you find peace and you ’ rhenium wholly now. ” The poetry besides helped launch one of R & B ’ s brightest new stars, Ari Lennox .
15. Drake & J. Cole — “Jodeci Freestyle” (Originally released in 2013)
Before the platinum albums with no features, being left off an MTV ’ randomness list of the hottest MC ’ second in 2013 mattered to Cole enough to spew some of the most ardent bars of his career. To be honest, this verse takes a while to get going and truly doesn ’ thyroxine ascend to the levels of all-time great J. Cole features until the final hour when all of his internalize doubt and frustration turns into a torrential storm of defiant retribution .
He ’ sulfur Bruce Banner Cole with populace doubt permeating his veins until it turns him into The incredible Hulk, which is actually just ‘ 94 Nas and ‘ 96 Jay. This verse is a perfect microcosm of J. Cole before he gained the confidence and career clearness with 2014 Forest Hills Drive. He was still out to prove something and would do so by any means necessity whether it ’ s outdated, offensive autism punchlines or hopping on the sung with the presumptive best rapper of his era and holding his own .
14. Wale, Curren$y & J. Cole — “Rather Be With You” (2010)
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The means misdirection songs like this — and Common ’ s 1994 classical “ I Used To Love H.E.R. ” — work is by highlighting commonalities between two entities that are implicit in of both. The words are chosen cautiously to keep the magic trick going but it ’ s the gradual unwrap that makes this an all-time. Why would his boys clown him if they found out he kissed her ? Why would he “ let ol ’ girl watch ? ” It ’ sulfur verses like these, where the dull realization that Cole ’ s been telling two stories at once washes over you .
13. Cozz & J. Cole — “Knock Tha Hustle (Remix)” (2014)
If Cole ’ s two verses on this sung were one, it would be able to threaten for a top-five spot on this list. The first verse is the flashy of the two with Cole flexing his pen to make cops looking for drugs “ the system of weights watchers ” and vehemently proclaims “ Oprah hates niggas. ” That ’ s the verse that ’ ll get your attention. The second verse is the one that ’ ll catch ahold of your soul — equating dreams being deferred to being dead and then describing his hood as being “ victims of genocide ” makes his brother ’ s irritating fib a microcosm of a larger topic in good one verse .
12. Rapsody & J. Cole — “Sojourner” (2018)
First of all, it ’ sulfur J. Cole tearing into a pristine 9th Wonder outwit with an aggressive level of conviction on owning up to his flaws. So it can ’ thymine go faulty. Cole articulately captures that transitional point of a person ’ mho life where the past is in the rearview but calm informing your imagination of moving ahead. Cole doesn ’ metric ton explicitly express his fear of his child inheriting the worst traits of its father. alternatively, he opts to reveal this uncomfortable insecurity by laying out his own childhood injury “ pumping through my veins like IV fluid pumping through the blood of wifey while she ’ second giving birth to my child. ” Cole is “ not a small boy no more but not quite old so far ” and still able to drop gems for the young person that don ’ thyroxine know about Malcolm X and the elders who lost promise on them .
11. 21 Savage & J. Cole — “a lot” (2018)
Cole has a unique way to imbue his verses with determination. This poetry is no different, with Cole revealing his storm range of guest verses is partially predicated on keeping his appoint relevant in the conversations regarding his bequest. Along with KOD ’ s satirical cant, Cole railing against manufactured streaming numbers and his tangential stream of encouragement for Dennis Smith Jr. and other celebs good like Cole firm stepping into his character as the elder statesman of this generation of rap : critical and inspirational. He besides has the best poetry on person else ’ s entire album, so that ’ s reason enough for “ a fortune ” to be this senior high school .
10. JAY-Z & J. Cole — “A Star Is Born” (2009)
No matter if the luminescence of the “ Lil lightsaber ” line becomes a bit outdated, this Blueprint 3 node verse will everlastingly be one of Cole ’ south best guest verses off the fact it was the first time millions of his fans now heard “ the small broke nigger from the ‘ Ville. ” Impressing people after three Jay-Z verses is one thing. For your verse being the most memorable part of a birdcall with three Jay-Z verses is a about unprecedented target that instantaneously puts your verse in the pantheon of rap classics .
9. Royce da 5’9″ & J. Cole — “Boblo Boat” (2018)
The aeriform vocal sample, apparitional hi-hats, and soft bass of the Cool & Dre and 808 Ray produced “ Boblo Boat ” basically induces memories. And Cole takes us on a tease through his own. From the moment he ’ second “ piling up bros like we were clothing on a dressing table, ” he lulls you into the classify of hypnotic spell characteristic of a dream by maintaining the lapp rhyme convention, while constantly changing the ocular. Cole ’ south had verses with more standout lyrics and verses with more deepness, but there ’ south this indefinable feeling of being lost in recall that Cole captures that makes this rewind-worthy .
8. Omen & J. Cole — “Mama Told Me” (2011)
The most underestimate J. Cole guest verse is on an eight-year-old mixtape from one of the first Dreamville artists, Omen. once kale ’ sulfur verse on the Afraid of Heights track from 2011 starts, he sounds like a man on a mission over those ill piano chimes. There ’ south a classifiable rasp to his voice that sounds like pulling these revelations from the depths of his soul. In under one moment, we learn things about Cole and his family he still hasn ’ t in full addressed elsewhere in his music .
7. Wale, Melanie Fiona & J. Cole — “Beautiful Bliss” (2009)
“ A star Is Born ” is when the mainstream catch on ; “ Beautiful Bliss ” is when The Warm Up fans knew he was the best knocker alive. Cole was dripping with so a lot wag, his slickest punchlines spilled into lines by chance. He ’ ll “ permit you niggas see the light ; I ’ m like the prison yard ” and flip that same light up into his mother watching her “ son lift, ” kicking second knowing her “ son set. ” This victory lap rap and Cole ’ s star topology can owe some of its shine to the ageless afterglow of this exultant verse that is the lasting memory of this sung .
6. 6LACK & J. Cole — “Pretty Little Fears” (2018)
The mark of a great node verse is a performance so singular in its enormousness the independent artist becomes an afterthought on their own song ( learn : Kendrick Lamar on Big Sean ’ s “ Control. ” ) A bunch of the greatest guest verses are the verses that fit a modern position into the master artist ’ mho vision. That ’ s what Cole does to emotive potency on 6LACK ’ mho drab ode to the concern of opening up .
The tender tonicity of Cole ’ randomness part adds a layer of sincerity to lines like “ sneaking glimpses, asking God how he drew you like that. ” then, there ’ s the development of his love from a delicate bloom at the start of his verse to a seed planted to sprout a class tree by the goal of his poetry. You could argue this is the most poetic guest verse from J. Cole ever .
5. The Game, J. Cole & JMSN — “Pray” (2012)
Fitting the plot twists, background floor and character complexity of an stallion song into one verse is one of the more impressive feats Cole has achieved on the best of his guest verses. There ’ mho so much to unpack from this one verse that rewinding it is a prerequisite for appreciating its glare. There ’ randomness Cole, his love interest, her boyfriend and the random man who offers to kill her after he tells Cole she has an STD, and Cole gives each a degree of depth not. Each represents a different reaction to temptation .
4. J.I.D & J. Cole — “Off Deez”(2018)
Greatness is much born from a challenge. Cole has sped his flow up in the past, but never to the near-supersonic academic degree as his Dreamville protege J.I.D. The rush forced an already efficient lyricist as Cole to fit the elaborateness of his metaphors into even smaller pockets. The results ? The rap equivalent of getting the star in Super Mario Bros. ; the game moves at the rush of your indomitability .
The focal ratio allows Cole to make punchlines appear out of nowhere. Lines like “ turn your blister to a photograph op ” are instantaneously explained with a few “ pawl, suction stop, chink ” onomatopoeias right after. The Lox, ’ 90s Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and Coldstone ice cream can only occupy the same space with a mind like Cole ’ second and stream like the one he adopts for this verse. Calling J.I.D the closest knocker to him in skill feels less like an endorsement and more of a coronation as the upstart MC has outshined everyone on the ultra-competitive and collaborative Dreamville album Revenge of the Dreamers III .
3. EARTHGANG, J. Cole, Smino & Saba — “Sacrifices” (2019)
Sacrifices come in different forms for unlike people. and only Cole can make the average fan sympathize with the plight of person so rich they can do anything, to a demerit. Cole plainly mentioning the ignorance that comes from a wealth-induced disconnect from company is matter to. But, telling the charwoman you love you want to protect her by build “ a wall worth $ 5 billion bucks ” like Donald Trump is the kind of implicit sarcasm that has become a brand of Cole post- KOD .
The creativity felt engrossingly free-flowing on this poetry as if at any point Cole could speed his flow up to convey how cursorily the mother of his children changed his life, at any point. Or, a apparently innocent mention of moving to “ the boondocks ” could grow i nto the popular drollery of the same name being used by Cole to express his change from the activism of Riley to the businessman nature of Eddie Wuncler. On a deeper tied, that agate line is a apt east wind egg for traditionalist J. Cole fans who remember how he was “ Huey blend with Riley ” on “ Can I Live ” from his 2009 The Warm Up mixtape .
2. J. Cole, Zoink Gang, KEY!, Maxo Kream & J.I.D — “Oh Wow…Swivel”
For Cole, with historic period comes a better understanding of the economy of speech. His last class of node verses has largely been closely poetic levels of brevity that has led to some of the most heavy bars of his career. “ Guilt heavy as a cloud in a thunderstorm ” is such an ill way to illustrate how the slant of person ’ mho problems isn ’ t dictated by how clayey they appear to everyone else. But, what elevates this verse to elite levels in Cole ’ s celebrated history is the fact that it embodies closely all of the best versions of J. Cole .
He is insightful Cole who “ believes everybody happy dead. ” He is rap nerd Cole that remembers the last clock time he went to church was when Jim Jones battled JAY-Z. He is lyricist Cole who feels so obligated to satiate fans ’ desire for his patent bible flips that he ’ ll say he ’ randomness “ therefore active on the radio I ’ megabyte radioactive. ” This is the verse where Jermaine wielded all of the Infinity Cole Stones and started snapping at levels not seen by him since the beginning of the ten .
1. Kanye West, Pusha-T, Big Sean, CyHi Da Prynce & J. Cole — “Looking For Trouble”
here ’ s the scene : It ’ s November 5th, 2010 and it ’ s the thirteenth workweek of Kanye West ’ s hebdomadally G.O.O.D. Friday series of song releases. It ’ sulfur besides closely 18 months since then-newcomer J. Cole released his last soundbox of employment, The Warm Up. It ’ mho besides a week away from a thwart Cole releasing Friday Night Lights: a bunch of songs the label passed on. At the time, this wasn ’ thyroxine just a node verse. These G.O.O.D. Friday songs had hard established themselves as events that people structured their days around. JAY-Z ’ s protege hop on his first Kanye West tick after not having an album out to disprove doubters was equivalent to either a coronation or a public execution .
ironically, Cole killed his way to the throne on this birdcall. Outside of simply guest verses, you ’ five hundred be distressed to find a individual verse ever saliva from Cole that was as efficiently dazzling as his “ Looking For Trouble ” poetry. He was “ rap Moses, start that, Mary and Joseph ’ s son ” seconds before he would “ never say I ’ thousand better than Hov but I ’ m the closest one, ” which was mere lines away from having “ nigger that ’ ll blow your tee ( T-shirt ) off, put a fix in one. ” And that ’ s before he added the formaldehyde .
even if you listen to the poetry now, and weren ’ thymine refreshing your front-runner web log site every 10 minutes on that November day, you can hear how relentlessly determine Cole is on this song. Steph Curry drains the injection after crossing Chris Paul into the dusky of his career. Simone Biles lands perfectly up after contorting her torso in midair. And J. Cole telling the world at big that it ’ second “ ironic you ’ ve been sleeping on the matchless that you ’ ve been dreaming ‘ bout ” was the perfect ending to a perfect poetry that blew aside everyone on the song .
about a ten by and by and it remains the gold standard for a J. Cole guest verse .
Keith Nelson Jr. is a diarist who has covered hip-hop, engineering, and movies/TV for VIBE, Revolt, Digital Trends, Flaunt Magazine, and more. Follow him @ JusAire