“Young nigga with his jeans low. Nice guy just got a mean flow. Never seen rich but he’s seen poor. Mr Dolla and a Dream in case you ain’t know”. Has he made it any clearer that he is the realest nigga ever?
In Frankfurt, West Germany, Jermaine Lamarr Cole was born on the 28 January 1985 and from the age of 8 months was raised by his mother in Fayetteville, North Carolina. J.Cole’s father wasn’t in the picture because he left when Cole was still young. He attended Terry Sanford High School and later attended St. John’s University. Cole grew up with a love for basketball and rap music
He was inspired by rappers such as Tupac, Eminem, Nas and Canibus. These rappers made him develop a love for story telling in his lyrics. At the age of 14, Cole’s mother bought him an 808 beat machine so that he could produce his own music because he had books filled with lyrics, but had no beats of his own. Using the name, Therapist, he started posting his songs on various internet forums by the age of 17. He was also shunned by Jay-Z after he stood outside for three hours, after wanting to give him one of his demos. Cole then released his first mixtape called The Come Up, but this didn’t get significant recognition.
He then released his second mixtape , The Warm Up in 2009. That year, Cole appeared on Jay-Z’s “A Star is Born” on the album The Blueprint 3, as well as Wale’s mixtape Back to the Feature and his debut album Attention Defict. 2010 was also a busy year for J.Cole. He appeared on B.O.B’s mixtape on the song Gladiators. He also ranked 49th in Beyond Race Magazine’s “50 Breakthrough Artists”. XXL magazine also featured him on the Top Ten Freshmen. His hit single and crowd favourite “Who Dat” was released in April that year and featured on Miguel’s “All I want is you” debut single. In celebration of his mixtape The Warm Up, he released a freestyle called The Last Stretch in June. He also released the music video for “Who Dat” on 106 & Park in August. He received the UMA Male Artist of the Year award for The Warm Up mixtape. This also got him recognised by Jay-Z and was signed to Roc Nation. He then released a third mixtape called Friday Night Lights and had Drake, Wale and Omen as features. Cole was also responsible for most of the production on this mixtape. So many achievements and this was just in 2010.
And in the year 2011, it just got better. Cole produced a song for Kendrick Lamar called “HiiiPower” and it was released in April that year. He also accompanied Drake on Light Dreams and Nightmares UK Tour as a supporting act. On June 15, 2011 he then released “Work Out”. This song later became a hit single, being at the top of several music charts. The video for “Work Out” premiered August 15 on Youtube, Vevo and 106 & Park.
After an unfinished version of J.Cole’s “Can’t get enough” ft. Trey Songz was leaked, this track was announced as the album’s second single. While being in Barbados doing his last performance on Rihanna’s Loud Tour as the opening act, Cole shot the music video for “Can’t get enough” which featured Trey and home girl in her hometown who made an appearance closer to the end of the video. The video was released on the 14 September 2011. A few days later, September 27, Cole World: The Sideline Story was released. This album sold 218 000 copies in the first week and found itself at number one On the US Billboard 200 Chart. In December that year, the album was certified gold for shipments and selling of 500 000 copies by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Soon after, during an interview with Hot 106 morning show, Cole also announced that he had already begun working on his second studio album. Also saying that certain songs that didn’t make his debut album, definitely made his second one.
In 2012, He released the album’s third single titled “Nobody’s Perfect” which features Missy Elliot. He was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys, but didn’t win. In February, he released the song “Grew Up Fast” in celebration of reaching two million Twitter followers. He also performed during the Big Brother Africa 7 ceremony in May. This was J.Cole’s first time in Africa. Using a clever way to throw hints about a new album, Cole released the song “The Cure”. J.Cole waited until Kendrick released his album, to reveal his new album. He then dropped a single from his up and coming album called “Miss America”. Although Cole knew this single wouldn’t be a radio hit, he stated that he had hoped that this track would shift music to a different direction saying in an interview, “To Me, Miss America shift things a little bit, it changes the conversation it takes it in a more aggressive direction, more raw, more social commentary.. Any type of commentary is good compared to what a normal single is these days. That’s my aim, is to shift culture slightly, change the conversation. Nobody expects that for your first single”. This song featured on the deluxe version of his Born Sinner album. Born Sinner was originally supposed to be released on Cole’s Birthday, 28 January 2013, but as the time got closer, he revealed that the album wasn’t ready yet and that he still needed more time to get it just right. He then revealed another set release date which was 25 June 2013, but decided to move it a week up after hearing that Kanye was releasing his Yeezus album on the June 18. He did this as a strategic move to compete with Kanye, later in an interview saying, “This is art, and I can’t compete against the Kanye West celebrity and the status that he’s earned just from being a genius. But I can put my name in the hat and tell you that I think my album is great and you be the judge and you decide.
In the United States, the album sold 297 000 copies in its first week. The album also made it to the number two spot on the Billboard 200 chart, behind Yeezus himself Kanye West who took the number one spot.
Being the creative guy that he is, J.Cole released a video, announcing that he will be releasing his third album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive. He announced that the album will be released on the 9 December 2014. The name of the album was inspired by Cole’s childhood home in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Unlike his previous albums, Cole didn’t release any singles off the new album. The album was also available for pre-order on iTunes before its official release date.
Cole then promoted his album with a tour titled Forest Hills Drive Tour.
To go a step further to prove that this guy is definitely underestimated, he purchased his childhood home in North Carolina and plans to turn it into a shelter for single mothers and their children to live, rent-free.
If this doesn’t make you place J.Cole at the top of your number one rapper’s list, then re-read this article!