J. Cole Talks Storytelling, Working with Jay-Z & Kendrick Lamar

Cole talks about trading verses with Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, and how 'Pac and Nas taught him the art of storytelling.

HardKnockTV recently caught up with rapper/producer J. Cole to discuss his upcoming debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story. Although he is currently making the rounds pushing the project's latest single "Work Out," the Roc Nation hopeful confirmed that Hova will indeed make an appearance on an as-of-yet untitled track.

Cole explains that although Jay has yet to lay his verse down on the self-produced track, which already features two of his verses, he’s afraid of being upstaged by the Brooklyn vet. He also adds that the first time he'd ever really been lyrically ousted by a fellow rapper on one of his own beats was on Kendrick Lamar’s "Temptations."

"I produced [a song that will feature Jay-Z]," he said. "He didn’t lay his verse yet, but the beat is hard…I didn’t really foresee me wanting Jay on it [when I made it], so now I’m in a position where I’m like, 'Man, should I go in on it?' I'm a rapper at heart. I want to get everybody – not saying that I could get Jay-Z. But it’s a great song how it is. I’ve got two verses and a hook…but I just don’t want Jay to come and kill me and destroy me right quick.”

He added, "The first time I met with Kendrick Lamar…[and] got up on some music shit, I was just so excited that I gave him some of my beats. 'HiiiPoWer' was one of them…which he killed and destroyed, and another one of them was the song that I've got now called 'Temptations.' When I gave him the beat, it already had my verse on it, and I was like, 'Yo, I've got this crazy beat with an ill verse on it – just do [what you want] with it.' I'm telling you, you should never give a nigga like Kendrick Lamar home court advantage, 'cus he came back with an incredible verse. My verse is still crazy…but [his] was the first verse anybody ever spit on one of my songs where I was like, 'You little motherfucker.'"

J. Cole also discusses how Nas and 2Pac influenced him as an emcee. He explains that their anecdotal leanings helped him to be able to write more conceptually-driven material and bring to life different narratorial perspectives besides his own.

"There's a few things…that I’ve studied a lot in rap. I've studied the raw, vicious rappers, the Canibus's and Eminem's, and then I’ve studied the storytellers like the [2]Pac's and the Nas's. I've studied all these things and one thing I've noticed that I bring to the table…that was not really present [over the past few years] is the storytelling side, and that's always been a joy of mine…of course, on the album, I'll give a lot of my real stories…but there’s also my friends’ stories and your stories, and I feel like anything you've ever been through in the past…I’m trying to find a way to tell that story…I feel like if I do that, I'll never run out [of material]."

The full interview with J. Cole can be viewed below.

RELATED: J. Cole Preps Solo Debut "Cole World: The Sideline Story," Due September 27th


  • Adecmr

    Man, J. Cole is on another level. When "Cole World" drops on 9/27, everyone will go crazy!

  • lex

    New rapper from the 910! iLLarious -UNSTOPPABLE http://snd.sc/nvShuU

  • jae

    its like when girls go to the club thell bring their ugly friend with them, i cal them bitches

  • jae

    but point i ws trying to make is why dont rappers with labels sign rappers that are better then them? its freaking ego thats why u got bunch of plain ass dudes running around its stupid yo name one dude jay z sign that was better than him??? he picks dudes that he can spit better then on next verse,birdman dident do that,and eminem never sign anyone better than him but i think he trys to so i ant dissing em,but think bout that

    • Anonymous

      dude, its not like jay-z is super duper lyrical his damn self (he used to be but not hardly) so cole CAN get the best of him if he wanted. Shit, jay-z got showed up on his own song by cole, didnt u listen to a star is born?? like i said, if u heard the come up, the warm up or even FNL and u think he doesnt go hard spittin then ur not really listening to the rhyme schemes or the messages. BTW jay did sign a artist thats not only better than cole but better than himself....Jay Electronica! DUH! Oh, wait, your gonna tell me hes plain sounding too? i would actually LMAO if u think he isnt at the very least above average

  • Rosh

    This wack ass name dropping nigga. modern day will smith and shit.

    • Anonymous

      u got j. cole confused with the game. he name drops in his raps all the time but not cole, and whats this shit about him being the modern day will smith? that makes no sense unless ur refering to that will smith line on who dat

    • Anonymous

      wtf are u talking about??

  • jae

    his rhymes are kinda plain to me like i dont kno jay z needs to sign rappers that are better than him or just has good or at lest close,thats thing bout sum rappers that have labels their skard to sign sumone better in fear of getting out shined thats so wack,look at eminem he sign slaughterhouse them dudes is sick,look at birdman he sign dudes that are better or just as good,im not dissing j cole i kno he can get better not saying hes wack but its like come on with all the dudes out their they sign sum plain ass dudes

    • Anonymous

      ^^^i missed the part were u said birdman sign dudes that spit better than him so my bad but wayne and tyga sound better than him?? FUCK NO! GTFO u cant be serious they cannot outrap cole in anyway shape or form. What sounds did u listen to? Cole is no plain sounding rapper on songs like 2face, dead presidents pt. 2, the storm, can i bus, grown simba, simba, enchanted, killers etc. your not listening to the actual words or rhyme schemes if u think he can spit hard

    • jae

      i said birdman sign ppl that was better than birdman in rapping or just as good dumb ass lol..an u act like j cole is like super or sumthing listen to him hes plain as hell wtff tel u the truth lil wayne an tyga sound better than him, yea they make pop songs but if u listenin to their mix tapes they change it an spit dope,like mase, mase made mad pop songs but he can spit its kinda like a real shy dude that u think is really shard but at niye he kicks ppls asses lol,their are lotta wack pop artist i agree but sum of em can really spit they just make the pop songs for money,i heard planty pf j cole songs he sounds to simple i dont see why theirs any hype about him,

    • Anonymous

      ^^^forreal, cole is a average mc to me but no one from young money or cash money is touching cole lyrically or musicially, and u'd kidding yourself if u think otherwise. I cant argue that point about slaughterhouse tho (even tho jay-z has signed jay electronica who is better than SH imo)

    • Anonymous

      ^^^who the fuck did birdman sign that are just as good or better than j. cole???? please dont name anyone from young money cause them dudes are not as j. cole and their wack!

  • 2-6

    all ya'll j cole haters need to watch your mouth for real this niggas is the next great one and if u disagree come down to the ville and we'll show u whats real

  • hmmm

    j cole raps like a dude who never led a street life but stayed in the house and just listened to dope rappers 6-8 hours a day until he was able to get down the cadence and wordplay. Great producer, but he represents the internet rappers of 2day

    • daddy01

      @hmmm *sarcastically* oh yea you are soooo right, Denzel was not a crooked cop before Training Day I guess he doesn't deserve that Oscar for his role....gtfo

    • Anonymous

      ^^^u saying that he never led the street life like its suppose to be a bad thing or something and whats wrong w/ rappers using the internet IF they arent wack??

  • coleworld

    Yea I love that he give respect to the rappers that came before him and that he know he not the best but he does his best.

  • Shlomi TalentDisplay Samya

    I like most of his music... he's a solid producer as well. I like the way he's talking about all these other rappers giving his respect. That's cool. @TalentDisplay

  • thetruth

    This nigga ain't that hot. He's been calling himself a FRESH MEN for 3 damn years and he still hasn't released a album yet. He says the same as rhymes over and over again and throws NIGGA at the end of every sentence. HE'S GARBAGE!

    • nyystateofmind

      he definitely does recycle a couple of lines here and there.. it kind of annoys me but oh well. im also dissapointed that workout plan is going to be on the album. that song is fuckin horrid

    • Anonymous

      ^^^^u make a valid point about him saying nigga at the end of alot of lines but he doesnt say the same rhymes over & over. Clearly u aint heard enough cole. GTFO if u think hes garbage

  • Anonymous

    Niggas in hiphop is talkin bout TED Talks!!! YO HIPHOP IS BACK!!!

  • COLE

    Cant wait for his album.....and big krits..this kendrick album dope..im also looking forward to royces even if it is 11 tracks


    A few lines I wrote to a J.Cole track: "Fuck love, I just nut and bolt/ for Love is but a man made emotion/ and anyone can feign devotion/"

    • WHY!!!

      ^^What big words? he used regular everyday common words lol go back to school and step your dictionary game up son

    • Abshir Bile

      you niggas silly like chris farley just cause he used a couple of big words dont make it good this nigga didnt even make it rhyme hahahaha

    • WHY!!!

      ^^^the lines aint bad but they aint all that good to me imo, and i dont even like waka flocka or lil wayne. Now get off my dick u fsg

    • Anonymous

      People like the dick above me is why there's the Wakka Flocka Flames and Lil' Waynes in this world. You need to keep at it on the rhymin', no doubt, but at least you have a message, a coherent thought.

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