After teasing the first song from Dreamville’s Revenge Of The Dreamers III sessions for a week, J. Cole once again has hip-hop fans buzzing about his long-simmering, possibly one-sided feud with GOOD Music founder Kanye West. On “Middle Child,” Cole appears to take more shots at Kanye in the song’s first verse.
Referring back to the fan-generated competition between Cole and Drake from when both were just starting to stir up hype on the underground mixtape scene, Cole writes:
Back when the rap game was prayin’ I’d diss
They act like two legends cannot coexist
But I’d never beef with a n—- for nothin’
If I smoke a rapper, it’s gon’ be legit
It won’t be for clout, it won’t be for fame
It won’t be ’cause my sh*t ain’t sellin’ the same
It won’t be to sell you my latest lil’ sneakers
It won’t be ’cause some n—- slid in my lane
While presented as a list of things that prevented Cole from dissing Drake or any of their successors — like Lil Pump, who notoriously dropped a single called “F*ck J. Cole” only to be invited for an air-clearing, big brotherly conversation with the older rapper — it’s hard to miss the air of disappointment permeating those last few bars. Kanye, unlike Cole, has been embroiled in an infamously angst-ridden feud with Drake for the past few months. Yeezy sales have slowly fallen off as well, so that connection is pretty easy to make. ‘Ye also made some pretty emphatic arguments about the nature of clout during one of his late-night rant sessions on Twitter.
With that evidence, it’s no wonder that Twitter is currently rampant with speculation and debate about Cole’s intended target. Given fans were previously convinced that Cole criticized Kanye on the 2016 single “False Prophets,” making it a short leap to assume that “Middle Child” is a spiritual successor to that song. For his part, Kanye never responded then, but now that he’s back on Twitter, maybe he’ll find time to address it. Check out some more fan reactions below.