Might Delete Later

Might Delete Later

At a time when rappers are inclined and incentivized to overstuff their projects, J. Cole chooses instead to do more with less. The North Carolina-bred rapper’s move towards shorter and tighter solo outings has certainly served him well since at least 2016’s chart-topping 4 Your Eyez Only. While presented as a mixtape rather than a new album, Might Delete Later follows the concise approach of KOD and The Off-Season, with Cole once again limiting himself to 12 tracks. Within these confines, however, he provides fans with the flows and phrasing they’ve come to expect from him, alongside features from the likes of Ab-Soul, Central Cee, and Gucci Mane. On “Crocodile Tearz,” he waxes poetic on his top-tier status and makes direct mention of his elusive, long-awaited album The Fall Off in the same breath as JAY-Z’s Reasonable Doubt. Later, he brags about risk-taking from a position of strength on the beautifully named “Trae the Truth in Ibiza” and futurizes his way through the boom-bap clatter of “3001.” Naturally, the producers give him plenty to thrive over. The Alchemist helps elevate the discourse on “Stickz N Stonez,” while Conductor Williams orchestrates the back half of closer “7 Minute Drill,” a Kendrick Lamar diss that Cole subsequently disavowed publicly within days of release. Though some might understandably dwell on Might Delete Later’s final three and a half minutes, much of what precedes that finale defends Cole’s legacy even more emphatically. Cam’ron’s guest appearance on “Ready ’24” would be an impressive flex as is, were it not a bold remake of a Diplomats classic. Yet his willingness to yield the spotlight to his longtime Dreamville signee Bas on the moving “Stealth Mode” speaks even louder.

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