J. Cole was famously signed to Roc Nation after Jay-Z heard the track "Lights Please" before the mixtape was released. In August 2010 J. Cole, was awarded the UMA Male Artist of the Year thanks to his heralded The Warm Up mixtape. He was awarded the first ever Sucker Free Summit Who's Got Next in 2010 because of the mixtape. On June 26, 2013 J. Cole announced that he would be re-releasing The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights for retail sale, in order to give them the push they deserved.
In his review for MSN Music, music critic Robert Christgau gave the mixtape a two-star honorable mention, indicating a "likable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well enjoy." He cited "World Is Empty" and "Get By" as highlights and quipped, "He's so talented you can hear how much he wants it, so talented you wince every time he shoots himself in the foot, e.g. 'Put some chains on my niggaz like I own slaves'".