Giants of Rap and Hip-Hop Reviews

J. Cole: ISBN 978-1-68282-777-2 / eBook: 978-1-68282-778-9
Booklist, April 1, 2020

Rapper J. Cole’s rise to fame is the subject of this entry in the Giants of Rap and Hip-Hop series (6 titles), with Steffens framing the young artist’s path as unusual among his ilk. Cole is biracial—half white, half Black—and after a childhood of poverty, he attended St. John’s University, where he got serious about music. The bulk of the text focuses on the period before Cole’s first studio album, detailing his perseverance on the road to finally being signed by Jay-Z. It goes on to lay out his major releases, the critical response to his work, and his philanthropic projects. It’s a light biography, concerned primarily with the creative journey of the artist, but its heavy use of quotes from the subject lends an authentic touch. An inspiring account for young artists, especially of hip-hop.
— Ronny Khuri