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J. Cole Speaks On His Production Process, Upcoming Mixtape & Keeping Jay-Z Waiting

When it comes to titles, J. Cole is like a dater with commitment issues: He’s not quick to put one out there until he’s sure it’s right. It’s the reason both his upcoming mixtape—rumored to be dubbed Villematic (false!)—and debut album are still officially nameless. The Roc Nation flagship MC and Jay-Z protégé, who laced the theme music for baller game NBA211, is still set on making his own name, though; not only on the mic, but behind the boards, as well. Having carved out his own sound—jazzy, instrument-rich, sample-based melodies—the soulful rapper is set on crafting bangers for your favorite MC. That is, once he actually starts sending them out. 

Minutes before taking the 106 & Park stage, J. Cole hopped on the horn with VIBE to talk upgrading his production, his upcoming mixtape, waiting for the perfect Jay-Z record and the thing about titles. —John Kennedy


VIBE: Your production got some good acknowledgement after “Bun B For President” hit the web. What’s the back story on that record?

J. Cole: Bun hit me towards the end of last year, he was working on his album. I was working on my album but I also wanted to get my production foot in the door, which I’m still working on to this day. But anyway, I was mad inspired. This is Bun. Let me cook up some crack. [Laughs] Lo and behold, I made that beat. And I was like, “Aw man, this is perfect.” I came up with the concept because back in the day there was “Eric B For President “ with Rakim. So I was like, “Aw man, let’s do ‘Bun B For President,’” so I just played off the concept and sent it to him. He was loving it, but I don’t know what happened in the meantime. I read the interview where he said that he ain’t really know what to do on it, which was cool. I know what that’s like. But it would’ve been amazing, man, if that would have made his album. I would have loved to hear that.  

Have you been sending tracks to other people, though? 

I make beats for other people, but I’m so busy. I was just having this conversation with Busta Rhymes. I got an incredible beat for Busta, and a verse. I get so caught up in artist mode [that] I forget to even send these things out. I got beats for Nas, Jay, Andre [3000]. All these people that I’m doing beats for, they would never know. [Laughs] They just sit in my folder. Everything is going to happen at the right time. These beats will get out there when the timing is right.

Who’s the most random person you’ve made a beat for?

I don’t want to say random, but I got this incredible J. Cole-meets-RZA [track] that I’d love to get Ghostface, Raekwon, Vado from Harlem—like a real New York thing. Then do the same thing on some South shit, and get all these Down South rappers on this gritty New York-sounding beat. It would be incredible. I feel the beat would make RZA proud.

What would you name this mega North-meets-South, Wu-sounding record?

I called the beat “Kill ‘Em All.” It ain’t nothin’ too crazy. Kill ‘em all, nigga! [Laughs]

[Laughs] That sounds dope in the background!

This shit is crazy. [Laughs]

Titles seem to mean a lot to you.

Yeah. I take pride in my names! I used to sit there for five minutes and figure out what I’ma name the beat. And, literally, it’s the first thing that comes to my head. Sometimes I’ll name it “This Beat Sucks.” [Laughs] Or “This Shit Incredible.” 

Ha! You take a little longer for CD titles. What made you name the next mixtape Villematic?

That’s the thing, the mixtape isn’t called that—just the song. The cover kinda confused people. My plans wasn’t to call it VIllematic. I’m deciding between titles right now.

All clear. So what’s the theme of the mixtape? Is it in the same vein as The Come Up and The Warm Up?

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Gang Member May Testify Against Defendants In 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz' Murder Trial

A member of the Trinitarios gang who witnessed the fatal stabbing of Bronx teenager Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz may take the stand against five defendants this week.

The first of two murder trials for the killing of Junior Guzman-Feliz began earlier this month, NBC4 New York reports. Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago (24), Jonaiki Martinez Estrella (24), Jose Muniz (21) and Manuel Rivera (18) and Elvin Garcia (23) were given second-degree murder, manslaughter, conspiracy, gang assault and criminal possession of weapon charges for the June 2018 stabbing of the 15-year-old.

It was previously reported that the leader of the Trinitarios gang assisted the police with information about the defendant but it isn't known if he is the same witness who will testify this week.

A total of eleven women and one man make up the jury. During the first few days of the trial, the courtroom watched three clips from the harrowing incident that showed Guzman-Feliz before and after the attack. The teen was reportedly stabbed by the defendants in a case of mistaken identity.

One of the clips was never seen by the public and showed the attackers dragging Junior out of the grocery story with the teen fighting back as the gang yielded machete and knives. Later in the trial, jurors were shown 13 different angles and the six locations of the group looking for the teen.

As family members sobbed in the court, prosecutors claimed that Junior's murder was premeditated given the weapons used. But defense attorneys deemed most of Junior's wounds as "superficial" and noted how the cut to his throat was the cause of his death. They also claimed four of the defendants did not intend to kill Junior. The defense rilled up the court, including Junior's family.

"Why would they need those weapons if they're not trying to kill someone?" sister-in-law Ione Guierrez told ABC7. "I need somebody to explain that to me." Junior's father was later escorted out of the courtroom for using profanity as the defendants reportedly laughed during the trial. "These guys are sitting there, just looking at us, just literally laughing," supporter Ilene Mariez told reporters. "The family got really really upset, and the father, towards the end, he was so upset he was using profanity," Mariez added. "So they pulled him from the courtroom."

Defense attorneys cross-examined witnesses like a woman who saw what happened from her apartment window. The witness said Junior motioned for her to call the police. After heading outside to help the teen, she said in disturbing detail his last word was "water."

A total of 14 people are facing jail time for Junior's death. The other nine suspects who are accused of taking part in other aspects of the assault will have a pretrial hearing dated for June 17.

Junior's passing sent waves around the country as clips were seen on social media. A number of celebrities took part in the #JusticeforJunior movement like Carmelo Anthony, Cardi B, Lala Anthony, Rihanna and Wesley Snipes. The street where Junior died was changed from Bathgate Avenue to Lesandro Junior Guzman Way. He was also honored by the NYPD with a scholarship created in his name. The teen was a member of the NYPD's Explores Program and had an interest in becoming a police officer.

"He was one of the good kids in the Bronx," his mother said at the time of his death. "He has never been in any fight, never, in 15 years. He was innocent. He never grew up on the streets. He was with me all the time."

If found guilty, the five defendants will face life in prison.

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Muhlaysia Booker: Transgender Woman Who Was Viciously Assaulted In April Found Shot To Death In Dallas

Around 6:40 a.m. on Saturday (May 18), Dallas police officials were called to the scene of a crime to discover that Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender woman who was physically attacked by a group of men last month, was fatally shot. According to Buzzfeed News, the 23-year-old Dallas resident was discovered face-down in the street. The police department ruled her death as "homicidal violence." An investigation is still underway.

In April, Booker was brutally assaulted by a group of men after a minor car accident. A 29-year-old suspect, Edward Thomas, was charged with aggravated assault, but later released on bond. Law enforcement states there's no evidence to believe Booker's death is connected to last month's incident.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of Muhlaysia Booker," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings tweeted on Sunday (May 19). "I call on anyone with information on this homicide to please contact the Dallas Police Department." In 2018, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) revealed that 26 transgender people were murdered. Black transgender women made up a majority of that figure.

I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of Muhlaysia Booker. I call on anyone with information on this homicide to please contact the Dallas Police Department.

— Mike Rawlings (@Mike_Rawlings) May 20, 2019

Sarah McBride, HRC's national press secretary, previously said to CNN that the country's politicians need to take action.

"While there certainly are examples of individuals killed by people they know, including partners, many of the transgender people who have been killed are murdered by almost complete strangers," McBride said. "More people need to understand this epidemic of violence targeting marginalized people in this country, including transgender people, is hate-based and a byproduct of existing prejudice inflamed by politicians all too eager to appeal to the darker undercurrent of society."

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Rihanna Debuts First Look Of Fenty Label With LVMH

Rihanna let the world feel her power when it was announced that she would be the first black woman in history to create an original brand with LVMH. Now, in an interview with T Magazine, the pop diva is giving the world the first glimpse of pieces from her collaboration. RiRi sat down with T Magazine's Jeremy O. Harris, dug deep into her new world of luxury fashion, and even shared a few gems about R9.

"I've been slowly evolving throughout the fashion world. First wearing it, buying it, being recognized for my style and then collaborating with brands," she said. "I never just wanted to put my name on something and sell my license. I'm very hands-on, so I wanted to take it slowly and gain respect as a designer. I already had a relationship with them after Versailles campaign and the makeup line, so they extended the offer to me and it was a no-brainer because LVMH is a machine. Bernard Arnault was so enthusiastic; he trusted me and my vision."

 

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For Rihanna, she wants Fenty to embody all aspects of the human person. She has no qualms about what's feminine or what's masculine, and she looks to herself to better execute that vision she has for her Maison.

"I use myself as a muse," the Bajan beauty says. "[Fenty's] sweatpants with pearls, or a masculine denim jacket with a corset. I feel like we live in a world where people are embracing every bit of who they are. Look at Jaden Smith, Childish Gambino. They dare you to tell them not to." The Bad Gal made it clear that there's a difference between Rihanna the singer and her brands Fenty Beauty and now her line with LVMH. She says the line between her music and all other creative avenues she pursues has to be distinct because she refuses to lose her credibility.

 

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"Every collaboration I did outside of music, I used Fenty so that you didn’t have to hear the word 'Rihanna' every time you saw something that I did," she revealed. "So Rihanna stayed the music, the person. But these other brands are called Fenty." Although RiRi is currently venturing more into the "Fenty" side of things, she's still focused on Rihanna the artist with her reggae album in the works. There's no set due date, but she may very well have a name ready and it's a little tongue in the cheek.

"No, so far it's just been R9, thanks to the Navy" she answered when asked about a name. "I’m about to call it that probably, ’cause they have haunted me with this 'R9, R9, when is R9 coming out?' How will I accept another name after that’s been burned into my skull?"

Make sure to check out the upcoming Fenty pieces in RiRi's spread with T Magazine.

 

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https://t.co/tXI8jBAmBs #FENTY pic.twitter.com/r46mJoj5NJ

— FEИTY (@FentyOfficial) May 20, 2019

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