J Cole is one of the most popular contemporary MCs and is known for spotting talent. As the founder of Dreamville Records, Cole has cultivated a vast amount of talent and brought several artists to the forefront, including JID and Ari Lennox.
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.
However, while recording in his early days, the emcee kept his ear to the streets, making sure he knew about the freshest talent and hottest producers. By doing so, in 2010, the lyricist caught wind of a young West Coast artist, making a lot of noise from the Top Dawg Entertainment camp.
In an interview with the iconic Canadian journalist Nardwuar, Cole was asked whether or not there was any truth to the rumour that he was the individual who introduced Kendrick Lamar to Dr Dre, to which he responded, “Who told you that? Who gave you that piece of information? The answer is yes. I did. I’m not gonna say I was the first to tell him, but I was like, ‘Yo, you gotta sign this kid from Compton.’”
In late 2009, Dr Dre was working on the still-unreleased album Detox, and Cole unveiled that it was while he was in the studio with the G-funk legend that he brought up Kendrick and suggested that he should check out his material. However, he did admit that some of Dre’s team members were already familiar with Lamar.
When asked whether or not he would have signed him if he had the chance, Cole stated, “100 per cent. I don’t know what I would’ve signed him to, you know what I mean? We didn’t have our business intact, but that’s how much I rocked with him at that time. I met him and instantly was highly impressed. That would’ve been the first artist in my mind [to sign], but come to find out, he had bigger shit going on.”
Cole and Kendrick have collaborated on a number of tracks, including ‘Forbidden Fruit,’ ‘Black Friday,’ and ‘Temptation.’ You can listen to J Cole speaking to Nardwuar in the video below.