J. Cole Says His Mother Is His Biggest Influence

Exclusive: UPDATE: The North Carolina emcee says fans can expect his debut Roc Nation album by late summer.

North Carolina emcee J. Cole spent some down time with HipHopDX recently to discuss a side of himself that the public has yet to see. Being the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, we asked how he viewed the progression and acquisition of the talent brought in to the label. “It’s been a blessing man, because obviously I’m like the first over there, so I got like all the attention, well not all the attention now because there are more artists, but there’s still like that marquee artist thing. So the attention I get over there is a blessing. A lot of artists don’t get attention at their labels. If I was at Def Jam, very easily, I could just fall by the wayside. And the same thing with Roc Nation and Columbia; Roc Nation became a part of Columbia or whatever, so same thing with them they don’t have any Hip Hop artists. As far as the other artists they [Roc Nation] picked up, everyone is talented over there. They got Bridgett Kelly singing amazingly, they got a whole bunch of talented writers and things like that, and of course [the management of] Wale and Melanie Fiona.”

Since having the opportunity of touring with one of Rap's most influential artists, Jay-Z, it is inevitable that his mentor has taught him a great deal about his own performance skills. “Tour experience definitely improved it. Jay had a lot to do with that [as I was]  watching him every night on the tour. I made sure I watched every show on that tour; I came out and watched every Jay show. Even though it’s the same show every night, I made sure I watched it. He has really gotten good over the years. Who else has a banging-ass live show?  It’s tough in Rap. Wale ,when he has that band, it’s a whole other experience. I always keep that in the back of my head, how crucial that band is and the interaction between him and the band is beautiful to watch. Other than that I really try to learn from myself.  Every night what can I do better? I got to work on my voice, because I keep losing it.”

Roc Nation’s artist, who told DX that talking or texting on a cell phone is a pet peeve of his, has toured all over the country, but has been surprised by the warm receptions from some unusual places. “Some of the craziest ones that I didn’t expect was Houston. This was like months ago, this was like before, because it’s getting crazier ever week, the buzz, the fans, are growing every day, every week, and every month. This was a few months back I did Houston, yo, it was so packed! It was my show; it wasn’t like I was opening up for somebody, and it was packed from wall to wall.  And when I came on the stage, they showed me so much love; they knew the words to every single song. It was like damn, this is Houston. Same thing with Atlanta, and same thing with New York.  It just places that I’m not from, and somehow my buzz down there like my fan base is good.”

J. Cole’s warm reception down south could be because he calls North Carolina home. He explained the choice to leave for school in New York. “Just music.  Just because I thought that’s where the music industry was, so that’s why I went," said Cole. "I just figured that’s where I could get signed at. I didn’t even apply to school anywhere else but New York.”

As one of the few artists from North Carolina recognized in the mainstream, J. Cole addressed other talent in his hometown. “Carolina got a whole bunch of talent. I always shout out my mentors, even though they was doing it years ago, I still shout them out. Their name is Bomm Sheltuh, because to me, they like legends from where I’m from. 'Cause you know that’s who I came up under. There’s also an artist out of Fayetteville named Rain; he’s been doing it for a long time. And then also there’s an artist out of Raleigh named Small World; he signed to [Disturbing Tha Peace]. So you know, Carolina got a lot of talent coming up, and to be on the look out for. And there’s a bunch of people that I ain’t even heard yet that’s probably incredible.  It’s just one of those melting pots of music, you are going to find a lot of different styles and a lot of different talent.”

Given the hometown artists that influenced him, we asked J. Cole who his biggest non-musical influence was. “Probably my mom. Rap and just life-on some life influence. I think she the reason why I came out as good as I did, 'cause I could have easily gone another way like all kids, basically. I think the way I was raised and the shit she put me in kind of got me where I'm at; the morals she gave me allowed me to even pursue some shit like this, when I think the average person would just…even if you go to college, it's looked at to be a good thing; but then, what if you go to college and you do the regular shit: not following your dreams, settling for the nine-to-five, $30,000 a year for the rest of your life. Sometimes that's not always good if you're not doing what you love, so she gave me the tools I needed to kind of get to where I want to be." 

UPDATE: J. Cole announced to Shade 45's All Out Radio Show that his untitled Roc Nation debut could be out as early as late summer. "They ain't gave me no date yet, but I'll just say August myself, because that's what feels right and that's what it looks like, trajectory-wise," said the rapper.

Written and Reported by Amaiya Davis.

18 Comments

  • Queen Tee

    J cole’s debut album ‘Cole World: The Sideline Story’ will finally be in-stores 9/27 I know yall feeling that First single “Workout” Single will go up live on iTunes, make sure you get it cause it jams!! http://bit.ly/jBEukn

  • Ko0L-AID2331

    J.cole! HE IZ A BEAST! HES BETTER THAN ANY RAPPER ALIVE ACCEPT JAY Z AND NAS! THAT KID IZ DOPE!

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  • Brooklyn, AlltheWayFromit

    J. Cole is welll polished, he fills the beat with words, with rhythm he one with the track, everytime- impeccable flow. On top of that his punchlines is crazy, metaphors are on point. his viewpoint is original, and he gotta alotta insight. He's a fans' artist. The fans can so relate to everything he says, every last thing. whether its his home life, women, school, strivin for success, seein shit around him. he's a very complete artist. straight up lyricall ability, he's the best young nigga out right now. What Drake has over him is brevity and sound, Drake's voice is better.

  • moh112

    hopefully cole world will sell well

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  • WTF-MAN

    J.COLE >>>>>>>> DRAKE, but still very bwack

  • DEALOW

    Yall cats need to stop the hate. You can't name 5 albums that came out in 2009 that was better than his Mixtape "The Warm Up". This young cat is ill. And he is killing Drake by far. Drake is what I call a punch line rapper. He doesn't have the talent that J. Cole has. And I'm not going to even mention his production skillz. I just wish reall hip hop artist such as J. Cole had a real outlet to be heard. And it's funny how he didn't mention Little Brother and 9th Wonder as artist from North Carolina that inspired him. Because when it comes to hip hop. They are the cream of the crop. PEACE AND BLESSINGS......

  • DStephens

    peep this.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SG0sCnab-U

  • The Ice Cold Phenom

    Enough already with the J. Cole hype. Goodness. He's ok but not hot enough to have the streets on fire like this. He is just an average mc with a ton of hype. He hasn't done anything!!!!! Let him drop an album first the we can revist J. Cole's status.

    • Ko0L-AID2331

      u dont know wat u tlkin bout.j.cole is the third best rapper alive!hes after jay Z AND nas!

    • Supreme Murph

      Obviously you haven't heard "Grown Simba" "Lights Please" "Show Me Something" his verse on "A tar Is Born" damn I can go all day!!1

    • SUNSET VEST

      THATS BECAUSE THE MAJORITY OF THE STREETS LIKE THAT PUNCHLINE WATEREDDOWN BULLSHIT THAT THEY CANT EVEN RELATE TO AS LONG AS ITS NOT THE TRUTH THEY LOVE IT THEY PROMOTE IT WHO GOES TO THE CLUB EVERY NIGHT, WHO HAS MONEY TO BLOW,WHO WANTS TO FUCK EVERY GIRL IN THE WORLD,AND J COLE IS BEYOND OK HES GREAT AND HES REAL YOU PROBABLY NEVER EVEN LISTENED TO HIM AND IF YOU DID WHO THE HELL IS YOUR FAVORITE MC

    • hauoo

      dude is above average. The warm up mixtape was better than a lotta albums in 09. @THE ICE COLD PHENOM anyone being compared to illmatic is BS hype. there will never be another illmatic or anything like it.

    • The Ice Cold Phenom

      I totally disagree with you. I have heard J Cole being compared to illmatic Nas which is insane. He isn't even close. I like the kid, but I don't believe the hype is warranted at this point.

    • CiTy Boy

      yea he hasn't done anything yet besides dropping a few critically acclaimed mixtapes, making some classic songs (of which he produced them), and upstaging every artist that featured him on they songs (i.e. Jay-z, Wale, etc) He has hype because of his skills and he's way beyond average

  • hauoo

    his mom is my biggest influence too

  • JOE6PACKNC336GBORO

    i havent met one person yet who know who this dude is. just sad when it comes to music and if your not down with them sucker azz niggaz at the radio station 102jamz you get no luv or air play..

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