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Interview

Two to every
sides Cole

J.Coles a bit of a strange fis


h but its his paradoxes tha
t make him so interesting.
Gloria Ogunbambo caught up
with the rapper from the Vi
lle to talk vice and virtue,
locking horns with Kanye an
d why hes not sitting aroun
d waiting for Jay-Zs approva
l.

here are 20 or so journalists


crammed into the one room at
a Soho recording studio waiting
to hear US rapper J.Cole preview
tracks from his new album Born Sinner,
the highly-anticipated follow up to
2011s gold certified Cole World: The
Sideline Story. Its a pretty intimate
affair. A short while later, the man of
the hour surfaces; fresh off a plane
and cutting quite the languid figure as
he sets his 6-foot-2 frame on a stool
before his captive audience. He insists,
somewhat unconventionally, that
everyone introduce themselves.
Relaxed, reserved, and (dare I say
it) humble, its clear that anyone
expecting a Kanye-sized ego or
some Diddy-esque posturing will be
leaving sorely disappointed.
Despite the jetlag, Coles eagerness
to share the fruits of his two year
labour of love is tangible so much
so that when he claims, Im not
doing this for the money or the
fame. Its all about the love of
music, resisting the urge to roll my
eyes proves an easy feat. Mouthing
along to his own lyrics, bobbing
his head vigorously and grimacing
with satisfaction at the intricate,
self-produced beats that fill the
room; this portrait of the modest
artiste passionately sharing his work
with the world, sits entirely at odds

with the one of a man who admits he


still hasnt bought a house but made
sure to pick up a diamond encrusted
Rolex and Jesus Piece the first moment
he could. When I interview him a day
later at his record labels HQ, it quickly
becomes clear that J.Cole the man is
every bit as contradictory as the music
he makes. Hell tell you how important
it is for a woman to have ambition and
smarts, and in the same breath how
funny it is when strippers fight over
dollar bills.

J.Cole on not
being a rap clich
Im not out here trying to be wild just
so you believe Im a rapper. I keep the
same people around me as I did since I
was 12 years old. Im not trying to sell
an image. Im just trying to live my life
and I dont do things for attention. I am
a private person so I try to make sure
things are tight youre not gonna see
me tweet about how I dont like traffic!
Im very conscious of being sucked in
and getting caught up. Like, I dont
wear my watch or my chains and
stuff around the house; thats for
when Im on stage and Im J.Cole. I
mean I wish I could say I didnt want
all that stuff, because having it is a
sign of how far Ive come but really,
I know I dont need it. Whats more
important to me is how I get it.

J.Cole on having a
split personality
When you listen to the album you
definitely notice that shift the way
it flows from darkness to light, from
depression to happiness. Im putting
stories of my life, all the things that
I wouldnt say out loud, out there
for millions of people. I mean I
was literally writing myself out of
a negative, dark place where I was

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Interview

Im not out here


trying to be wild
just so you believe
Im a rapper.
I dont do
things for
attention
and Im very
conscious
of getting
caught up.
like, paralyzed and second-guessing
myself like, Is this beat a hit? Is this
a hit drum? Is this a hit rhyme?
That whole Jekyll and Hyde thing is
definitely a part of my personality; I
have a lot of different sides to me.

J.Cole on squaring
up to Kanye

Im excited. Nervous, but excited! It


[Born Sinner] was originally supposed
to drop June 25th but when I found
out Kanye was releasing his album
on June 18th I was like, Yo, I put
too much in! I worked too hard on
this to follow Kanye! Im putting
out what I feel is an amazing album.
I dont even know if its going to sell
and people are looking at me like Im
crazy but hes one of the best ever and
Im a competitor and the way I see
it is either way I cant lose I talked
to Jay [Z] and he said the exact same
thing. My album is strong enough to
compete with anybodys.

J.Cole on hip-hop
honeys
I had the biggest crush on Alicia Keys
when I was 14. I dont know if I was
just dumb or over confident but my
cousin and I went to see her show
and waited in the parking lot. We
didnt see her though. I dont know
what I thought would happen: I was
standing there, trying to look smooth
and I guess I just thought shed
look at me and be into me! I was
on set for Beyonces Party video
and I had to drive this 2million car;
it was a Bugatti Veyron, down the
street. I was sweating like, I cant
damage this car, I cant afford to pay
for the damage! so I was driving
like, ridiculously slow. Then Beyonc
comes over to say hi, takes one look
at the car and shes like, This is
nice, I might have to get me one of
these. I didnt know what to say. I
feel like she was stuntin on me just
by saying that!

J.Cole on Jay-Z...

Our relationship is cool. Its not like


we hang out every night but when
we do get together and kick it, its a
great time. I only really call on Jay for
major pieces of advice, like when I
was deciding to go with Power Trip
featuring Miguel as the first single.
Hes been here since 96 or before
that even and hes seen everybody
come and go, hes been on tour and
not every song or album of his was
a success so hes seen the good and
the bad. He reminds me not to take
everything so serious and that no
one decision makes or breaks you. I
used to go to him for approval, but
now its just advice. As an artist you
should believe in your own work and
you shouldnt care what another
artist thinks about you even if he is
Jay-Z or Nas. When you start seeking
approval thats when it gets
dangerous. P
J.Coles album Born Sinner is out now
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