Re, The Follow Up: J. Cole.

J. Cole, a 24-year-old North Carolina native (Fayetteville), is the first artist (hip-hop) signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label.

I first heard his music on Imeem MySpace in October when some his second mix tape, The Warm Up, got posted.  He also came on stage for half-a-song when Jay-Z came through Austin in November.

Last night, one of my current reads, Let’s Just Eat Cheese, posted an interview with J. Cole where he talks about his struggles in coming up and in staying there.

While many of us probably aren’t aspiring hip-hop artists, you can definitely relate to his underlying drive to rise in his field.

Here are a few excerpts:

The Roc Nation Deal.

It gets tougher. Some artists get a deal and put their feet up thinking they’ve made it. But that’s how you get caught up. A deal was never the goal for me, it was just a step. A hard step to get to, but never the end result. My end result is still much greater. I’m trying to be the fucking best. This isn’t the time to chill. It’s the time to go harder. Now the benefits of going harder seem so much easier than before when you were fighting for it. The word achievement hasn’t come to my mind. I still have so far to go.

Did you ever doubt your career as an artist because of hard-hitting times?

Things got hard but I knew. You couldn’t tell me shit. Yeah I’m broke, true. I have a degree, true. All my friends have jobs and I don’t. But I still know where I’m going to be. This is what kept me going: In my mind, I was always just one step away. Always so close even though I was actually really far. For the past three years, I’ve been thinking it was a month away. Every month. There never came a point where I thought it wasn’t. I never looked at it like I was failing. I was struggling for something I knew was coming. When you know you’re going to make it, when you know you’re destined for something and you believe in yourself, you have to keep telling yourself its coming. Or else you’ll start to doubt.

Warm Up!

I always told myself that you didn’t have to have a strong buzz to get a deal. I’m relying strictly on my talent. The Warm Up is a chance for people who are basically going to be like “Who the fuck is this kid?” “Who did Jay-Z sign?” I’m using the mixtape as a tool for them to get the story, so they’ll know about all the work I put in. It’s the story about the kid that got cut from the team, never made it, but he doesn’t quit. He goes out the next year, maybe he gets cut again. But he doesn’t quit. He goes out the final year and he makes it. That’s what happened to me.


I always felt like I should have been signed from when I was really young. When it didn’t happen by 18, I started looking at my watch. When it didn’t happen by 21, I’m looking at my watch like, “Ok no later than 23”. I’m 24 now. I use to look at Tupac’s life and all he accomplished before he died at 25. I was 22 and wasn’t signed, 23 and wasn’t signed. When I finally realized there was no catching up to him it made me step back and say, “Yo, why would you want to catch up to him?” He lived his life and did what he was sent here to do; he did what he was destined to. I had to realize that I’m going to do what I’m destined to – there’s no time limit. Now I believe that everything truly happens at its right speed. There’s no longer a race.

A thing about fear.

My favorite basketball player, Penny Hardaway, came in the game as an incredible athlete. He was supposed to be the next Michael Jordan. He had a great career his first 4 or 5 years. I watched an interview two years ago where somebody asked him in maybe what was the second year of his career, “What’s your biggest fear?” He answered something along the lines of, my two biggest fears are that I’ll never win an NBA Championship and sometimes I have dreams where I have a career ending injury and I’m never the same player. Both those things happened to him. He basically spoke his fears into existence. Of course I have fears but I wouldn’t put them out like that or concentrate on them.

Your thoughts about his music (I’m half-way through the mix-tape now) and the interview are welcome.  Racing and A thing about fear really spoke to me.

Checkout the full interview at Let’s Just Eat Cheese (here’s J. Cole’s first interview on the blog).

ALSO, check out this track , Just Begun, by Reflection Eternal, ft. Jay Electronica, J. Cole & Mos Def.



2 Comments on “Re, The Follow Up: J. Cole.”

  1. linda says:

    i like the new layout

  2. Demetra says:

    J. Cole is a great young artist. I definitely believe he has a lot to offer to hip hop culture. His story is a unique one and his delivery on the mic is authentic and refreshing. His work deserves all the attention the blogosphere is giving him and much more.

    Great Post!

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