We can look back over time + history to see that some of the biggest staples in hip-hop were curated by other artists who used their influence to catapult them [and others] forward.
Think about it. Long before Kendrick, after Dr. Dre amassed infamous success with N.W.A., he then joined with Death Row and introduced the world to Snoop Dogg. Snoop would then feature Tha Dogg Pound and Nate Dogg, who would all go on to have successful careers as a group (213) and as solo artists and producers. Would we know Warren G, Eminem or 50 Cent if Dre hadn’t chosen to share his shine? We will never know. One could argue that Dre couldn’t pull off an entire album with no features on his own, but here’s one for you: Jay Z definitely could.
The multiple-time Grammy Award winner could have just kept all those hot beats for himself, being the sole conspirator of his flow and impact. Yet, would we have Beanie Siegel without Jigga? What about Kanye West? These artists have become culture shifting icons in music in their own right because their greatest push came in the form of a job referral. Heavy D gave us Diddy, Jodeci and Soul For Real. Jungle Brothers pushed A Tribe Called Quest like it was fresh water from a golden well. Juvenile introduced us to Lil’ Wayne. Pharrell, who saw many years of slow overall mainstream growth, put a defining stamp on Pusha T.
I am not saying that one needs to be endorsed in order to make it (just look at Chance The Rapper) and make an impact in music. But I am saying that as good as J. Cole is, I would love to see who he thinks is worthy enough to share with the world through his influence and on his own projects. For the sake of the future of the culture, everyone who comes out these days can’t be a label marketing gimmick. Someone has to have some legit credibility and some culture shifting staying power. Otherwise, all we are left with is… never mind. Who knows, maybe it is not for Cole to make that call? Maybe that responsibility should fall into the hands of another artist sitting on top of the hip-hop throne?