Cole’s latest is quite frankly one of the only songs that I have thoroughly enjoyed from him in the past four years. His last album, KOD, was drudgingly preachy and out of touch, finding Cole playing a nagging big brother to many of rap’s newest stars. On his latest cut, he seems to be more in-tune with his standing in hip-hop culture’s hierarchy, understanding his position as a successor to the Jay-Z’s of the world, while simultaneously existing as sage role model to the likes of Kodak Black. On “Middle Child” J. Cole sounds emphatic, reenergized, and surprisingly self aware. The T-Minus produced horns that accompany Cole’s lyrics are powerfully sumptuous and provide the ideal backdrop for Cole’s successful reinvigoration.