Fayetteville emcee J Cole has been a prominent figure within hip-hop for over a decade and has had his fair share of ups and downs. His 2014 album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, was a critically acclaimed body of work, and he has collaborated with some of the best artists in the industry. However, in a radio interview, he admitted that before fame, Jay-Z taught him an important lesson.
J Cole began rapping after his brief stint at St. John’s University in 2007. During this period, Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) was working on his project, American Gangster. Speaking with Radio personality Bad Boy on his breakfast show, The Neighbourhood, Cole revealed what happened after he got his hands on the album’s press release.
Detailing his actions, Cole unveiled, “I read the press release online, and it was like, ‘Jay-Z, finishing American Gangster!’ I was like, ‘Yo, he’s not done yet. I can go make beats right now and get on this album ’cause I know where the studio is at. So I went home, made two beats.”
The ‘Wet Dreamz’ lyricist admitted that he waited outside Jay-Z’s studio building in New York for him to arrive, divulging, “The Phantom finally comes around the corner…he hops out. I’m froze. I don’t really know what to say. I’m like, ‘Yo, Jay, I got this for you.’ He’s like, ‘What is that? What are you doing?’ I’m like, American Gangster, beat CD.’ I can’t really speak, and he’s like, ‘Man, I don’t want that shit!”
Cole elaborated on how he had waited three hours in terrible weather for his idol to collect his demo tape but was shocked when he got rejected. However, he learnt a lesson from the event, as he explained to Bad Boy, “It took me 15 minutes to get over it, but I realized, ‘You’re not gonna get on like that. That’s not how it’s gonna happen.'”
He continued, “When people come up to me, they give me their CDs. Chances are I’m never going to listen just ’cause I’m busy. But I do take it, just to give ’em that extra boost. They go home like, ‘Yo, he took my CD.’ That might give ’em three more months of like inspiration.”
Cole later realised he had to build a fanbase and grow organically and grew to understand that shoving a CD in a rapper’s face wouldn’t do anything for him. The emcee did just this and later signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company and began taking Jigga’s advice while working on his debut album. You can hear J Cole talk about this in the video below.