On this day (Feb. 12) five years ago, J. Cole released a brand new EP titled, Truly Yours. What later ended up being the first of 3 EPs, the Roc Nation rapper created the new series while putting the final touches on his sophomore album, Born Sinner.
In a message previously penned on his site, Cole thanked fans for giving him time to create, grow and experiment with his then-forthcoming project and explained that these were leftovers that weren’t going to make the album.
I appreciate you giving me the time I needed to grow, experiment, and find the direction for my 2nd album.. And I have.
Along the way I’ve recorded at least 4 albums worth of material, lots of it being unfinished demo versions waiting to be polished up, some of them are great songs and important stories that just won’t make the album (either they don’t fit Sonically, don’t fit Theme, or there’s just not enough space).
Tonight, I want to give you a few of these songs because you deserve them. It’s hard as fuck for me to keep all this music from you for so long, so I know it’s been hard for you to wait. Thank you for your patience. Vibe out to these songs in their raw form, no polish.. just a lot of my soul..
The wait is over.
Coming in with five tracks, you could that Yours Truly served as a dark introduction to Born Sinner, however, its dark sound also serves as a build-up to what 4 Your Eyez Only has later become.
Stream J. Cole’s Yours Truly EP below.
1. “Can I Holla At You”
“Can I Holla At You” finds Cole talking to three different people. The first verse finds J. Cole talking to an old flame who he thought would wait for him. However, when he returns home from college, he finds out she’s engaged. When they catch up with one another, she wishes she wouldn’t have settled down so quick and he wishes he could go back time.
On the second verse, J. Cole aims directly at his step-father. Never wanting to speak to him again, Cole questions why he did his mother the way he did and then blames himself for letting him in his heart.
The last verse is dedicated to an old friend who isn’t the same.
2. “Crunch Time”
“Crunch Time” is for those going through tough times with not much time left. J. Cole empathized with the listener and gave motivation and encouragement to get through.
3. “Rise Above”
“Rise Above,” tells the story of two women going through two completely different circumstances. The first woman deals with an ain’t shit baby father while the second woman tries to deal with debt and a useless college degree. Through it all, Cole tells them to rise above their situations.
4. “Tears for ODB”
“Tears for ODB” finds J. Cole walking us through his life in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Being an 80s baby, he talks about the impact of drug paraphernalia in his home, the struggles of growing up in the streets, depression, and feeling like he’s at the bottom of the barrel.
5. “Stay (2009)”
“‘Stay’ was my favorite song that was absolutely going on my first album, but I guess I’ll just chalk it up to my inexperience in the game,” J. Cole tells MTV.
“As time goes on, I’m not solidifying it, which basically means I’m not locking down the beat from No I.D. Long story short, I didn’t buy that beat from No I.D., and Nas bought that beat. He didn’t even know I did a joint on it either. I don’t even know if he knows, but I had that shit first.
That taught me a lesson real quick: If you want a record, you have to put some money down on it. Honestly, I heard Nas’ joint one time, and I can’t listen again. It’s hard for me. It’s rightfully his record, he put it out first, and he killed it too, but I can’t listen.”