Is kiLL edward J. Cole’s Alter Ego?

Many rap greats have alter egos. Tupac had Makaveli, Eminem has Slim Shady, and Nicki Minaj might still be toying around with Roman Zolanski. Basically, everybody in the Wu-Tang Clan has more than one moniker. But this morning, J. Cole may have revealed an alter ego of his own, kiLL edward.

The first hint came in the tracklisting for his newest album KOD, which reportedly stands for “Kids on Drugs,” “King Overdosed,” or “Killing Our Demons.” The project, due Friday (April 20), has only one featured guest, kiLL edward, and he appears on two songs (“The Cut Off” and “Friends”).

J. Cole is infamous for lacking guests. His last two albums, 2014 Forest Hills Drive and 4 Your Eyez Only, had no credited guest appearances. Therefore, fans immediately raised their eyebrows when they saw one act on two tracks. It begged the question: Who is kiLL edward? A quick search on any streaming service yields at least part of the answer.

It turns out kiLL edward released a song called “Tidal Wave – just a little reference” on all of the major streaming services. He dropped the song today, according to Apple Music, but it’s unclear if it appeared elsewhere before. Most notably, kiLL edward’s raspy singing voice sounds very much like J. Cole’s, only slightly pitched down.

There’s another sign that says J. Cole might simply be kiLL edward. Earlier this week, Cole held a private listening session for the album in New York. Several reporters and fans huddled inside of the Gramercy Theatre to hear the new project and not one of them mentioned a featured artist. Many were sworn to secrecy, but they still leaked a variety of album tidbits including song titles like “1985.” No one mentioned guests.

It might seem likely that Cole is kiLL edward based on all of this, but fans have been wrong about alter egos before. In 2014, many believed Your Old Droog dropped a secret Nas project with his voice pitched down. That turned out to be false. In 2015, some mistakenly thought Jay Rock was Lance Skiiiwalker on 90059. That was also incorrect. Cole World fans will most likely find out who the real kiLL edward is, and if the apparent alter ego means anything, when J. Cole drops KOD this Friday (April 20).

–Andres Tardio

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J. Cole Reveals ‘KOD’ Cover & Tracklisting

Before releasing his highly-anticipated fifth album KOD, J. Cole reveals the cover art and tracklisting.

The title has three meanings, “Kids On Drugs,” “King Overdosed,” and “Killing Our Demons,” and Cole’s artwork seems to reflect that with themes around royalty, children, substance abuse, and death.

An illustrated J. Cole sports a crown on the vibrant cover. It also features several skulls and children doing drugs inside of his robe. “This album is no way intended to glorify addiction,” reads the fine print above Cole’s head. The back cover also includes drawings of children and drugs.

The 12 tracks only feature one artist named kiLL edward on two songs (“The Cut Off” and “Friends”). Some speculate kiLL edward could simply be J. Cole’s alter-ego. A song by kiLL edward was uploaded to Spotify this year, and it features a voice that is strikingly similar to Cole’s.

The effort also includes an interlude (“Once an Addict”), an outro (“Window Pain”), and “1985,” which is dubbed the “Intro to The Fall Off.”

Earlier this week, he held private listening sessions for the album in New York and London, and fans are already raving about the material. KOD will be J. Cole’s first album since 2016’s 4 Your Eyez Only.

The project is due Friday, April 20.

KOD Tracklisting

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J. Cole Announces Mysterious ‘First Come First Serve’ Event

J. Cole is up to something. The Dreamville boss announced what appears to be a special concert at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre tonight (April 16).

The exclusive event is billed as “first come first serve,” with doors opening at 6 p.m. A tight-lipped Cole tweeted a purple flyer, which reads: “No phones, no cameras, no bags, no press list, no guest list.”

Dreamville president Ibrahim “Ib” Hamad confirmed the news, writing: “Pull up on us tonight NY, you got two hours see you soon.” He also added a no cell phones emoji.

The announcement arrives with mystery and intrigue. Jermaine just changed his social media avatars to blank purple backgrounds and some speculate this is all part of an album rollout. If so, it will be Cole’s first full-length album since 2016’s 4 Your Eyez Only.

Over the weekend, Cole debuted a new verse as part of an ESPN NBA commercial. He also recently collaborated with Royce da 5’9″ (“Boblo Boat”) and Cozz (“Zendaya”).

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J. Cole Debuts New Verse in ESPN NBA Commercial

J. Cole warms up NBA fans for this season’s hotly-anticipated playoffs. The Dreamville boss performs a spoken-word piece about this year’s many different storylines as part of a new ESPN commercial.

“There’s gold at stake for Golden State,” he raps. “How much weight can King’s shoulders take? / When the odds ain’t great, some fold and break / While greats let the dreams of a ring motivate.”

Following subtle nods to injuries and up-and-comers, Cole World also reps for the underdogs. “Never sleep on a man that’s expected to lose,” he raps. “With a chip on his shoulder and something to prove / The bottom’s for the wolves and they thirsty for blood / The mission is to catch somebody slipping above.”

J. Cole’s love for b-ball is no secret. In fact, North Carolina’s finest has references to basketball on the covers of his 2009 mixtape The Warm Up and its 2010 follow-up Friday Night Lights. His 2011 debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story was a culmination of the sports-based series.

Now, fans await new music. Cole’s last album, 4 Your Eyez Only, arrived in 2016. Most recently, he also collaborated with Royce da 5’9″ on the soulful “Boblo Boat” and Cozz on the more playful “Zendaya.” Next month, he will co-headline Rolling Loud.

Watch J. Cole’s star-studded ESPN ad below.

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5 Joint Albums We Want to See

What’s better than one superstar? Two. With rumors swirling about JAY-Z and Beyoncé’s joint project, Rap-Up has put together a list of five collaborative albums we want to see.

In order to make the list, we looked at a combination of confirmed, rumored, shelved, and dream records. From Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s G.O.O.D. reunion to the dream pairing of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, the star power is brighter than ever.

In addition to the husband-and-wife duo, we also dove into other possibilities, including two of Toronto’s finest, Drake and The Weeknd, and R&B heartthrobs Chris Brown and Jacquees.

Here are five joint projects we’re ready to spend our money on.

Beyoncé and JAY-Z

Will Bonnie and Clyde drop an entire album together? Beyoncé and JAY-Z are already a billion-dollar couple, but now they could become music’s most powerful duo, should they ever decide to release the long-awaited joint effort they started working on before LEMONADE and 4:44. “We were working on material together,” Hov recently shared. “It was just really honest.” He later likened it to a “therapy session.” Now, after past collaborations like “Family Feud” and “Drunk in Love,” the Carters are going on tour, so a collaborative album would be right on time.

Chris Brown and Jacquees

Chris Brown and Jacquees kicked off the new year by announcing a collaborative mixtape, which is set to deliver quite the one-two R&B punch. Breezy teased the dream effort with a bold prediction about what he thinks will shift the genre: “We gone fuck this R&B shit up.” Brown has even more on the way, as he’s also prepping Angels & Demons, a joint project with rapper Joyner Lucas. Meanwhile, Jacquees is readying his debut album 4275.

Drake and The Weeknd

Seven years after working together on Take Care, Drake and The Weeknd could find magic once again. This time, they can do it with a long-rumored collaborative project. There was a time when this seemed unlikely after a reported feud between the Canadian stars. But they’ve since reconciled and joined one another on stages across the world. Just last year, Drizzy also told Abel himself that an OVOXO effort “has to happen at some point.” So why not now? Both are crafting new albums, but a joint effort would make for quite the follow-up.

J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar

Even before Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole became the beloved powerhouses they are today, the duo announced a joint project. Both MCs have since carved out massively successful solo careers and pushed the project to the side. Still, the rumors of what could be have persisted, often coming from within their camps. “We should find a time…to really lock in,” Kung Fu Kenny told Rap-Up in 2012. By 2016, Ab-Soul claimed that the LP was “in the works.” Perhaps we’ll finally get that long-awaited Kendrick x Cole album, after all.

Kanye West and Kid Cudi

Kanye West and Kid Cudi have quite a history. They went from big brother-little brother to bitter rivals, before reuniting as friends and collaborators. Most recently, it looks like their bond was strengthened by the turmoil — as friends and as individuals — resulting in reports of a joint project in Japan. After songs like “Gorgeous,” “Welcome to Heartbreak,” and “Make Her Say,” it’s clear they have a winning formula together. Recently, they even linked up in Wyoming. Now, anticipation for the rumored joint effort is mountaintop high.

–Andres Tardio

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