J. Cole’s “Fire Squad” Takes Aim at Justin Timberlake, Iggy Azalea, and Eminem

Dan Reilly

By Dan Reilly

on 12.03.14 in News

If Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “Control” stirred the hip-hop pot, J. Cole just picked up the pot and tossed it through a windshield. Earlier, the North Carolina’s upcoming album 2014 Forest Hills Drive leaked, and a portion of the song “Fire Squad” is making waves with its criticism of white artists who’ve “snatched the sound” of hip-hop from the black community. He specifically calls out Justin Timberlake, Iggy Azalea, Eminem, and Macklemore for doing what “Elvis did with rock and roll.” Here’s the verse in full, courtesy of Vibe:

History repeats itself and that’s just how it goes
Same way that these rappers always bite each other’s flows
Same thing that my nigga Elvis did with rock and roll
Justin Timberlake, Eminem, and then Macklemore
While silly niggas argue over who gone snatch the crown
Look around my nigga, white people have snatched the sound
This year I’ll prolly go to the awards dappered down
Watch Iggy win a Grammy as I try to crack a smile
I’m just playin’, but all good jokes contain true shit
Same rope you climb up on, they’ll hang you with
But not Jermaine, my aim too sick
I bang nigga, I came to bring the pain my brain too quick
You see how I maneuver this game, I ain’t stupid
I recognize that life is a dream, and I dream lucid
And break the chains and change minds, one verse at a time
And claim that you sick, and fuck it if the truth is
Who’s the king?

It’s a nice touch that Cole threw in the old “I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’” caveat. It’s definitely interesting that he called out Timberlake, considering Cole appeared on the crooner’s remix of “TKO” a year ago. Then again, this isn’t unfamiliar territory for J. On “Crooked Smile,” off 2013′s Born Sinner, there are these lines about the country’s racial issues, as well as two of the most popular white artists around:

Look at the nation, that’s a crooked smile braces couldn’t even straighten
Seem like half the race is either on probation, or in jail
Wonder why we inhale, cause we in hell already
I asked if my skin pale, would I then sell like Eminem or Adele?

And then there was his visit to Ferguson, Missouri during the protests over Michael Brown’s death, as well as his powerful song “Be Free.” So, it’s no surprise to see that race is popping up in his songs, but “Fire Squad” is certainly going to make plenty of waves with its direct criticism of his white peers. 2014 Forest Hills Drive is due out December 9 via Roc Nation.