Within the past five years, a number of releases left the proverbial bucket of "rap albums that are never coming out." It was Dr. Dre in 2015, when he swapped Detox for Compton. It was A Tribe Called Quest when the group reunited for last year's spectacular We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. But while those albums actually arrived, following years of uncertainty, it left room for another top candidate in that aforementioned bucket and J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar's long rumored joint album fills the bill.
Between fan made petitions and unfair teasers, the collaborative project resided in the most anticipated albums list for years, and earlier this week it neared peak desert levels of thirst when Top Dawg Entertainment's co-president Terrence "Punch" Henderson teased the project. At first, while responding to a fan on Twitter, he confirmed the album is "probably never" coming out and one day later, hopped back on Twitter to admit "I was just playing about that dot and cole joint."
I was just playing about that dot and cole joint. It's coming for sure maybe. I don't know it might happen. Probably. Actually hit them 😂😂😂— Punch TDE (@iamstillpunch) August 20, 2017
All that said, here we are: hype, but left with no album. To think, it was about six years ago when all of this talk started. Let's step back in time and look back at the updates we've gotten about the album over the years.
In late 2010, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar teased a collaboration that was described as "top secret shit." Shortly after the tease, K. Dot spoke to Vibe and noted that the pair have "a lot of music."
"I'ma put it to you that way. It might not be just one song," he hinted. In the early part of 2011, Kendrick held an in-store signing event in Carson, California, where he previewed a few records off his then-upcoming album Section.80 and a few others. Among those new songs, K. Dot previewed "Temptation," a record that was produced and featured a verse from J. Cole.
Around February, J. Cole sat with MTV and described the collaboration as a "whole ridiculous thing that's gonna tear up the world." Coincidentally, in that same month, Kendrick spoke to XXL for an online interview and mentioned the project is going to "shake up" the world.
"We don't have a title or release date yet but J. Cole got like 90 percent of the production so far," the Compton-native said. Adding a bit more details, he even named one of his favorite songs from their early session. "One of my favorite songs of the project is a song called "Shock The World," he revealed. "Cole laid the first verse and set the tone for the whole record. It's going to shake up a lot of people."
By the summer, the two would "shake" things up with their collaborative track "HiiiPower," which appeared on Section.80 with Kendrick rapping over a stellar beat by Cole.
In May 2012, J. Cole spoke to Bootleg Kev of Hot 97.5 and confirmed the originally-intended collaborative mixtape would actually be an album by the two. "I just started working with Kendrick the other day," he said. "We got it in, finally, again. It's gonna be an album, man." In addition, the rapper also noted that the two weren't just "bouncing ideas," but also that they have about "four or five [songs] together." Later that year, following the release of his critically-lauded major label debut album good kid, m.A.A.d city, K. Dot, in an interview with the L.A. Leakers, revealed that there was no concrete release date set for the album. "We gon' drop that out [of] the sky though, I ain't gon' give no dates or no nothing. Just gon' let it fall," he said of the project.
Fans got a taste of this collaborative effort on the song "The Jig Is Up (Dump'n)." In that same year, producer/rapper Oddisee told Tim Westwood that he recorded a song with the two, but it never saw the light of day. "Everybody keeps talking about that record. They're doing fine without that record," he revealed. I'm doing fine. It does exist."
A year later, in 2013, Cole would dish more hints in an interview with MTV, telling the outlet that the sessions for the long-planned drop is taking time due to the competitive nature between the two. "It's mad competitive. It has to be, because we both love it," he shared. "We're not gonna speak about it, it's not gonna be like, 'Yo man I killed you.' It's pride. You have pride in your craft and what you do, but to a certain extent," Cole explained before adding, "It's coming. We already got too many songs. Even if you just get an EP, you gonna get something, but we got sh-- that we holding in the stash," he said.
Whether or not it was in this "stash," Cole would let off a collaboration between the two on his sophomore album Born Sinner. Although the record doesn't find the two spitting back and forth or contributing respective verses, the song "Forbidden Fruit" featured Kendrick singing the hook while Cole raps.
"Now I see why those joints don't happen," Cole would add in his MTV interview. "But it's a different thing when you got will and both your minds are set on it; it should happen."
To close out 2014, J. Cole released 2014 Forest Hills Drive. In 2015, Kendrick Lamar dropped To Pimp A Butterfly. Respectively, theses albums, both critically-acclaimed, transformed each artist into superstars. All these stats add fuel to the anticipation for a joint album. When asked if the project is still on the table, Kendrick told Hot 97's Ebro in the Morning show](https://youtu.be/vkedvCA8330, "Yeah, definitely. I still would love to do it."
"I talked to the bro, about a little bit over a month and he's on the tour rocking," he added. "So we're gonna try and make something happen. They want that." On Black Friday of 2015, the two gave a fitting preview of what is to come should a collaborative album arrive, dropping "something scary" on SoundCloud.
Giving each other's album standouts a spin, Kendrick hopped on 2014 Forest Hills Drive's "A Tale of 2 Citiez," while Cole took on To Pimp A Butterfly's "Alright." If that wasn't enough of a tease, Cole added extra fuel to fire by rapping, "When you and K.Dot's shit drop?' B-tch never / They can't handle two black niggas this clever," all before hinting that things will "get scary in February" with a mysterious drop all before the track cuts off. This quickly leads to speculation that the joint album would arrive during Black History Month of 2016.
After lighting the internet on fire with their Black Friday drop, February came and went without a Cole/Kendrick album despite fanmade album covers and a supposed release date. During an interview on the Rap Radar Podcast, Dreamville president Ibrahim Hamad had this to say about the false alarm:
"You know what? I will say that even when he said that, you know like, we kinda knew that was a stretch… Cole is Cole and he knows what he's doing. He has his ways of getting things done and I think that at the end of it all, it'll be way worth it. Whatever he had planned in February, whatever it is, it'll be way more worth it if people just like… know that he, he's kinda like a mad scientist with his thing. He's like a little mad scientist."
Later that year, Ab-Soul sat with The Breakfast Club and confirmed that despite the numerous teasers, the album is real. "There is a Kendrick-Cole album. They got it," he revealed. "They got something in the works." The Black Hippy spitter also went on to say Kendrick and Cole have been working on the LP for a while. In that same month, Cole would drop his fourth studio album 4 Your Eyez Only. And in what may be a trend (see 2014-2015), months later Kendrick would also return, dropping DAMN. Like 2014 Forest Hills Drive and To Pimp a Butterfly, the albums, arriving months apart, quickly launched to general acclaim.
As both emcees grow into even bigger superstars, the possibility of a collab album appears to be far-fetched — and then Punch, of TDE, resurrects the idea only to leave us back to square one: will they or won't they?
I'm still waiting for the Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole collab album since 2015 pic.twitter.com/8DR4iSh45M— Tendai (@Tendai_FC) July 28, 2017
Shock The World by Kendrick Lamar x J. Cole (Ft. BJ The Chicago Kid) . Another leak from the album. We waited too long for it bruh. 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/0jsrE9kDst— Conor McChazer 🇮🇪 (@Chazer11) June 21, 2017
When J. Cole and Kendrick stop playing and drop that colab album pic.twitter.com/KWRYs8Nr3c— 40ozJAY (@JKnight_47) June 6, 2017