In an interview with MTV, Cole explained that he originally rapped over the No I.D. beat that later became Nas’ “Stay.” Cole said that he wanted the song for his debut, but due to his lack of experience in the industry, he didn’t act fast enough to purchase it.
“We did the most incredible songs in one week,” he recalled. “[No I.D.] just looped up this sample, and while he’s looping up the sample, I’m writing the words, and before you know it, I have the song. ‘Stay’ was my favorite song that was absolutely going on my first album, but I guess I’ll just chalk it up to my inexperience in the game. As time goes on, I’m not solidifying it, which basically means I’m not locking down the beat from No I.D. Long story short, I didn’t buy that beat from No I.D., and Nas bought that beat. He didn’t even know I did a joint on it either. I don’t even know if he knows, but I had that shit first. That taught me a lesson real quick: If you want a record, you have to put some money down on it. I heard Nas’ joint one time, and I can’t listen again. It’s hard for me. It’s rightfully his record, he put it out first, and he killed it too, but I can’t listen.”
J. Cole added that the same thing happened to him with the beat for Rick Ross’ “Tears of Joy,” which was also produced by No I.D. However, Cole says he feels no remorse for losing the track, as Ross’ version is superior to his.
“The same thing happened with ‘Tears of Joy.’ I smacked myself,” he said. “That’s two classics that was supposed to be mine. But ‘Tears of Joy,’ I couldn’t have did what Ross did on that, because [I] was in a bad place. Me and No I.D. was in the studio, but the label was on me about some hits, so it was a bad session. I squeezed out a verse on ‘Tears of Joy,’ but I was not in a good place to do anything close to what Ross did on that. But I still smack myself about those.”
Check out the full interview below.