A pulsating beat. Supple synth harmonies. The strum of an acoustic guitar. A searing lead vocal from James Cole. It doesn’t take longer than thirty seconds for “Type of Guy,” Cole’s new single, to overtake the air around us with a dominating tonality that is unlike any other I’ve reviewed this season, and by the time this supersized pop jam comes to a finish, we’ll have experienced everything that this young star can conjure up inside of a studio’s four walls.
“Type of Guy” isn’t the most complicated song that he’s written, and it’s certainly not representative of an aesthetical shift in his sound, but what it does tell us about the state of this man’s career is surprisingly detailed. He’s definitely solidifying his style in this track, backing away from excess and cutting out any unnecessary fat from his songcraft, all of which will be required if he wants to get out of the underground and into the spotlight of the mainstream eye. James Cole is demonstrating a lot of self-control in this piece, and yet still somehow sounding like a rockstar whilst doing so.
“Type of Guy” is much more stripped down than the last track I reviewed from this artist – “Cali Queen” – was, and I think that its raw, organic textural expressiveness could be what makes it a standout with indie hip-hop and R&B fans this month. Cole is intentionally staying out of the instrumental melodies’ way, and taking measures to ensure that even when his vocal is at its most angelic, we’re still able to focus just as much on the sensuous slide of the percussion in the background as we are the lyrical lashings he’s emitting at the top of the mix. This is multilayered pop music on steroids; to some extent, I think that “Type of Guy” would likely appeal even more to alternative rap fans than it would any other audience because of its flowing verses, and more explicitly, the velvet-voiced singer responsible for delivering them unto us. No matter how you break this guy’s music down, there’s no getting around his immense talent and the incredible things that he’s doing with it right now.
I’ve been hearing a lot about James Cole in the last two years, and he’s absolutely living up to all of the buzz that has surrounded his sound in “Type of Guy.” He’s got so much swagger in this song, so much undying passion for the words that he’s shooting at us (in rapid fire succession during a few of the track’s more memorable moments), and if he’s able to maintain the spirit that he’s bringing with him into the studio at the moment in future recordings, then I haven’t even the slightest of doubts as to whether or not he’s going to have a really long and successful career ahead of him both at home and abroad. Artists like Cole don’t come around every day, and although his scene is producing a lot of interesting sounds this summer, his is a one of a kind treat that is hard to forget once you’ve heard it for the first time.