The J. Cole Q&A: Not Being Ready For ‘Can’t Get Enough,’ Internet Hate and Rapping Singers (Pg. 2)


Tray Hova | August 24, 2011 - 9:17 pm

What tools were you missing?
I mean it’s just about growing and learning.

Was it difficult to approach the beat with the right flow?
Nah, I could’ve rode the beat the same way. But it’s a combination of things, it’s riding the beat, it’s lyrical ability and it’s the picture you paint and the persona you put out. I had all of those things, but it wasn’t cohesive yet. It took a while to basically put everything together. The thing about being an artist today is you get to develop right in front of people’s eyes before you even put out an album. So I grew into that. I made that song last year in October. I’ve just been sitting on it, waiting. It was actually meant to be the third single. It was a blessing that it leaked because it reminded the label and management of what we had been already saying since October.

They were iffy at first?
[Nods head]

That’s weird. 
But everything happens for a reason. At first we had some issues with the hook.

The original was different?
I rapped that hook first, then I asked Trey to get on it and he sang the hook. I wasn’t necessarily in love with the way he sung it first, but only because I was married to the old version. But I realized quickly, shit this is fucking crazy.  

Ha! It’s been a long time since I heard Trey not steal someone’s song. He have his own verse or even a bridge… were you strategic with that?
He can definitely do that and I appreciate him for going light on me [laughs]. 

How do you feel about all the genre-mashing going on with rappers and singers now?
I think it’s dope. Why not? Who says Drake can’t sing if he wants to sing? Who said Chris Brown can’t rap if he wants to rap? It’s just adding another facet to your style. It’s just evolution man. The sad truth is, is some of our legends from the past came out now, people would think they were boring. You’ve just got to find a balance.

Right. I think singers who rap get criticized more than rappers who sing.
Yeah, but it’s not that serious, because you should know how to take it. I don’t even think they take themselves seriously—they just want to come on. If I could sing, I would sing just like Chris Brown. Someone like Trey Songz, I feel like he genuinely loves rapping and that’s fine. Some singers may not be your favorite rapper, but maybe they don’t give a fuck and their rapping helps them express something they can’t by singing. 

True. Leading up to your debut, it seems like everyone has an opinion on where your career should be going. Do you ever pay attention to the Internets comments for advice on next moves?
Nah, nah. I take things for what they are. If someone is saying something and they sound dumb as shit, then they’re opinion is not valid. But if you sound like you’re making some sense… a lot of times it’s people assuming, acting like they know what’s going on. So you have to understand that these people’s opinions are misguided. There’s so many critics, but they don’t actually participate in the creation or consumption of music. It’s easy to look from the outside. It’s natural, I talk about other artists too… who’s better, who’s fucking up… but you really don’t know. I just happen to have a foot on both sides. But when I can tell it’s coming from a genuine place of concern it’s both flattering and annoying. 

Interesting dichotomy.
It’s flattering because it’s like ‘Yeah, thank you. I want to see me win too,’ but annoying when you think about how people don’t really know what’s going on. 

Like an unneeded urgency?
Yes! Like you’re now creating a problem.

From what I can tell from a lot of your lyrics, you’re not the biggest fan of Twitter. Or am I wrong?