September 29, 2011 / 1:55 PM / 9 years ago

J. Cole's "Sideline Story" earns warm reviews

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After four years of performing, three critically acclaimed mixtapes, and one false start launching an album, Jay-Z protege J. Cole finally released his debut CD and one day later critics were raving.

J. Cole arrives at the 2010 BET Awards in Los Angeles, June 27, 2010. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

The Los Angeles Times cited Cole’s “slickly inventive beats” on the record, “Cole World: The Sideline Story,” and said that the 26-year-old “sounds assured of his skills” even when rapping alongside Jay-Z on “Mr. Nice Watch.”

As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait and that seemed to be the case on Wednesday for Cole, who was the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label when it was founded two years ago.

The title of North Carolina rapper and producer’s major label debut makes light of the waiting game he’s played since 2007 when Cole released his first free mixtape online.

Cole and his label even prematurely released a music video for the song “Who Dat” last summer in anticipation of his album’s release, only to delay the record.

Now, that song does not even appear on the new album but critics seem to have hardly noticed.

Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B-plus and said that while “bigger names in hip-hop have released albums this year ... few trump this debut.” offered 8 out of 10 stars and called Cole “an artist that we are certain to be seeing and hearing a lot more from in years to come.”

Among his peers, singer Drake, who joins Cole on “In the Morning” tweeted: “Great album from a great team.” Rapper Wale chimed in on Twitter by posting a photo of himself holding up two hard copies of the CD.

Cole told Reuters in a recent interview that the album balances different styles and lyrical content that reflect his meticulous approach toward crafting music.

“Like some rappers have, on my debut I could have gone super commercial,” said Cole of the album, which features appearances by Drake, Missy Elliott, Trey Songz (who appears on the single “Can’t Get Enough”) and, of course, Jay-Z.

Reporting by Sabrina Ford; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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