North Carolinian hip-hop behemoth and Dreamville pioneer J. Cole returned to the throne early for 2019 after wrapping up his Return of the Dreamers 3 Atlanta rap camp, thundered the charts with 2018’s KOD album, and welcoming some of the culture’s newbies back from timeout.
“Middle Child,” Cole’s first official single release of the year, took Twitter by storm on Wednesday night (January 23) when the clocks of Dreamville citizens everywhere struck 9 p.m.—the official Eastern drop time. The T-Minus-produced record set fire to the rap game as it follows Cole’s signature lecture lyricism formula: leaving the rap riches ranting to his hip-hop peers and, instead, unloading his lyrical lethality against his harshest critics. Or, as in the words of the Carolina G.O.A.T. himself:
“I’m countin' my bullets, I'm loadin’ my clips/
I'm writin' down names, I'm makin' a list/
I'm checkin' it twice and I'm gettin’ ’em hit/
The real ones been dyin', the fake ones is lit/
The game is off balance, I’m back on my sh**/
The Bentley is dirty, my sneakers is dirty/
But that's how I like it, you all on my d**k.”
The global Dreamville fandom has unanimously decided that one of those bullets Cole speaks of is aimed for the head of G.O.O.D. Music captain and Twitter’s favorite controversy frequenter Kanye West.
And when taking into consideration Yeezy’s rivalry with Cole’s longtime brother-in-rap Drake, whom the “ATM” rapper name-drops on the track, fans are convinced that Cole hasn’t just asserted himself as hip-hop’s generational “middle child,” but also as a Drizzy ally in the Yeezus versus 6 God rap world war.
...and some of the tokens of brotherly appreciation the OVO Sound leader has handed over to him, such as a new Rolex watch. Cole makes it clear that, despite hip-hop's urge to pit two powerful rap peers against one another, his heart is in brotherhood, not beef.
(And following a rather storied history with the Chicago emcee...)
Throw on your bulletproof vests and hear the "MIDDLE CHILD" track for yourself below.
(Photos from left: Prince Williams/Wireimage, Noam Galai/Getty Images, Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)