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“They act like two legends cannot coexist.”
J. Cole raps this line about 50 seconds into his new song, “Middle Child,” which dropped on Wednesday (January 23), in reference to Drake— specifically about the Rolex Drake gave Cole as a gift when they were perceived as rivals. It’s amid a larger point Cole makes on the song: “But I’d never beef with a n—- for nothin’ / If I smoke a rapper, it’s gon’ be legit.”
That’s essentially the takeaway from “Middle Child,” a horn-heavy triumph where Cole positions himself as the titular son of two vastly different hip-hop eras: the current one, led by rappers like Kodak Black and 21 Savage (who both get shouted out), and the one Cole grew up listening to, represented by Jay-Z (who also gets a nod).
“Middle Child,” produced by T-Minus, is Cole’s first new song of 2019, and on Twitter, he referred to it as “how I’m coming all year.” He also hyped that it’ll be an equally good year for his label, Dreamville, which makes sense given the forthcoming upcoming all-star compilation album called Revenge of the Dreamers III, set to drop sometime later this year.
Cole also had a lovely Twitter interaction with one of the most famous middle children of them all, Frankie Muniz (a.k.a. Malcolm, who was once in the middle).
Listen to “Middle Child” above and get ready for the rest of J. Cole’s 2019.