J. Cole's rise to hip hop stardom has been a deserved one, and, along with critically acclaimed albums and high sales figures, Cole has been granted his own record label, Dreamville, distributed by Interscope. Cozz, a 21-year-old Los Angeles MC, is the third artist to drop a project on the label, after Cole himself and Bas' 'Last Winter', and 'Cozz & Effect' is his debut album. Cole's intelligent angle and soulful beats are one thing, but Cozz combines a convincing delivery, nice punchlines and a smooth flow over hard hitting, gritty instrumentals. He truly is his own beast.
'Dreams' is the opening track from the album. The menacing, steady-paced instrumental sets the tone, and introduces us to Cozz's world in memorable fashion. As he spits about his dreams of being rich and successful, he keeps the vibe relatable; this is music for the new era of hustlers. Cozz exudes confidence on 'Cody Macc'. The haunting, subtle synth pads and sparse electronic drums back his precisely delivered flow, riding the beat in expert fashion, making for one of the stand-outs of the album. 'I'm Tha Man' is another heavy cut. Cozz's beat choices are superb, keeping it consistently soulful, but without ever sounding even a tiny bit dated.
Tracks such as 'Murda' and 'Dkbu' show Cozz's street tendencies, and he's just as convincing on these more menacing bangers as he is on the more conscious tracks, such as 'Knock Tha Hustle'. This diversity is impressive, and Cozz shows this whilst maintaining the album's cohesive quality, which, for a debut album, is a mature approach and a successful one at that. Fellow Dreamville MC Bas, who hails from Queens, New York, joins Cozz on 'I Need That' and the resounding instrumental backs the two MCs as they show that J. Cole's label is something to keep an eye on. Cole's one appearance on 'Cozz & Effect' is on the final track, a remix of 'Can't Knock Tha Hustle'. Cole drops two incredible verses over a timeless instrumental with crisp drums and soulful samples. Cozz impresses too, but it's easy to see why J. Cole has found the success he has when dropping verses of this standard is such a common occurrence.
This is a really solid debut offering from Cozz, and Dreamville is definitely a record label pushing quality hip hop with integrity and vision. Cozz's lyrical content might not be pushing boundaries and exploring undiscovered ground, but what he is saying, he says impeccably well. The beats are consistently banging, and Cozz's skill on the mic is undeniable. This west coast spitter has made a strong impact with this debut album, and has real potential in the game if this is the quality he is bringing on his first offering.
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