In a cover story for GQ, J. Cole opened up about his views on peeling back the layers of wanting to stay out of the spotlight, changing his life in order to be ready to raise his firstborn, and the importance of his fans. While those topics were addressed, a revelation that speaks to Cole’s beginnings was also shared.
When the 34-year-old artist promoted his first mixtape The Come-Up, his manager and longtime friend Ibrahim “Ib” Hamad helped to get the 2007 project in the minds of music labels, writers, and other tastemakers throughout the industry. Hamad’s cousin, Amin El-Hassan, also extended a helping hand. He worked for the Phoenix Suns at the time and assisted with introducing Cole’s music to the NBA players.
Now-retired, one of those athletes that wanted to take Cole’s career a step further was Amar’e Stoudemire. The 36-year-old planned to sign the Fayetteville native to his record label Hypocalyto, a feat El-Hassan believed was great news, but, “Ib said, ‘Oh, thanks, man, but we’ve got some bigger fish to fry.'” What they had cooking was a deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the rest is history.
Another revelation concerning music and the accolades that an artist can receive, Cole mentioned that not winning 2012’s Best New Artist award at the Grammys was actually a blessing. “It would’ve been disastrous for me, because subconsciously it would’ve been sending me a signal of like ‘Okay, I am supposed to be this guy,'” he said. “But I would’ve been the dude that had that one great album and then fizzled out.”
The “Love Yourz” rapper continued to state that if it’s meant to be, he will one day win a gramophone. “I’m not supposed to have a Grammy, you know what I mean. At least not right now, and maybe never,” he said. “And if that happens, then that’s just how it was supposed to be.”