Five years ago today, on Sept. 27, 2011, J. Cole unleashed his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story. Now he’s one of the genre’s biggest names, but back then, he was a rising star with mixtape success and plenty of potential.
Looking back, Sideline Story was an important milestone for Cole’s commercial success. The album catapulted to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and “Work Out” remains his biggest hit to date, peeking at No. 13 on the Hot 100. “Can’t Get Enough” featuring Trey Songz and the Missy Elliott-assisted “Nobody’s Perfect” were touchstones too, peeking at No. 52 and 61 respectively, all setting building blocks for his continued success.