J Cole once revealed  his favourite rappers of all time
Credit: LA Leakers


J Cole once revealed his favourite rappers of all time

J Cole is one of the most respectable artists in hip-hop today, and he’s a lyricist who has always taken his craft seriously. Cole, akin to Kendrick Lamar, has consistently released quality music over the years during what many have perceived to be a lull in hip-hop culture or even a slight regression. 

With SoundCloud rappers and mumble rappers flooding the airwaves, it is hard to find meaningful yet not overly political and depressing hip-hop music. In the late 1990s and 2000s, artists such as Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Jeru The Damaja showed that the industry was not ready to accept conscious rap. However, they were willing to entertain rappers like Jay-Z who could strike that balance between conscious and mainstream palpability.

J Cole is an artist that can provide just that. Coming up through mixtapes and features under Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation, Cole first garnered attention with his 2009 second mixtape release, The Warm Up. Early in his career, Cole was bagging huge features such as Wale, Talib Kweli and, as a part of the Roc Nation roster, even featured on Jay-Z’s 2009 album The Blueprint Three. 

Becoming a seemingly ubiquitous artist on hip-hop projects, Cole caught the attention of Beyond Race magazine, which featured him as one of their ‘Breakthrough 50 artists’ of 2009. The year following, he appeared on the cover of XXL Magazine as one of their ‘Freshmen’. 

Having partaken in a US college tour alongside fellow upcoming artist at the time, Wiz Khalifa, and after receiving an Urban Music Award for ‘Male Artist of the Year’, he renewed his contract with Roc Nation. With the help of his mentor, Jay-Z, who selected him as a support act for Drake’s ‘Light Dreams and Nightmares’ tour and, as a producer, Cole even helped Kendrick Lamar with his debut album Section.80

Eventually, after developing a cult following and respect among his artistic peers, in 2011, Cole finally dropped Cole World: The Sideline Story, his debut album. The LP peaked at number one on the Billboard 200. Since then, Cole has received a Grammy award, a Billboard Music Award, three Soul Train Music Awards, and 8 BET Hip Hop Awards.

As a complex artist, with substance to his music, the rapper (real name Jermaine Cole) had a number of idols growing up and was influenced by several different artists. However, in 2014, during an interview with Angie Martinez for Power 105.1fm’s The Angie Martinez Show, Cole revealed that there are five rappers in particular that he really admires.

Speaking to the radio host the rapper declared, “It probably changes all the time..it circulates the same people but it’s hard ’cause it’s really like six or seven but ‘Pac, Nas, B.I.G, Jay and then that slot right there is like Eminem or André 3000. I wanna say [André] so bad, but Eminem is like solo dolo,” Cole explained to Angie. “André’s incredible, but he’ll tell you himself, he was in a duo so his workload was a little less, but creatively he’s miles beyond.”

J Cole’s favourite rappers of all time:

  • Tupac Shakur
  • Nas
  • The Notorious B.I.G.
  • Jay-Z
  • Eminem
  • André 3000