J. Cole Feels His Success May Have Been Stifled If He Was Dark-Skinned

J. Cole shares his experience with racial profiling, says it's something someone white wouldn't "have to go through."

Following his emergence into the world of Hip Hop several years ago thanks to the release of several well-received mixtapes, Carolina rapper J. Cole has gone on to maintain a successful music career, but according to the Roc Nation artist, that success may not have come if his complexion was different.

While speaking with BET.com, Cole spoke on issues pertaining to complexion in black America when asked about his decision to include both dark-skinned and light-skinned women in his music videos.

“That brainwashing that tells us that light skin is better, it’s subconsciously in us, whether we know it or not… still pursuing light skin women. There are some women out there that are like, ‘I don’t even like light skin men’ and that’s fine,” said the Born Sinner rapper. “But Barack Obama would not be President if he were dark skin. You know what I mean? That’s just the truth. I might not be as successful as I am now if I was dark skin. I’m not saying that for sure, I’m still as talented as I am and Obama is still as smart as he is, but it’s just a sad truth.”

Cole also addressed his own experience with racism as he shared the details of a recent incident he feels was the result of racial profiling and commented on the experience being one someone white wouldn’t “have to go through.”

“That’s something that I feel like somebody my age that’s white doesn’t have to go through, especially in New York City. On the other hand, every time I’m on the plane in first class — this is a lesser evil but it still represents their mind state — I promise you, 60 percent of the time somebody asks me what basketball team do I play for or do I rap,” said Cole.

Although J. Cole’s success can be attributed to his work as both a rapper and producer, he says choosing to produce his own records was one of the biggest risks he’s taken in his career.

“Producing all my own songs and refusing to go to the hot producer. That’s the biggest risk I’ve taken so far,” Cole revealed. “Constantly taking that risk by not going to whoever is hot and still be as far as I am. It’s a blessing but it’s also been a huge risk because I’m not using the current hip hop sound. Whoever does the beats for people; I didn’t go run to them. Of course I will now because I want to now, I’m tired of having to make the beats from scratch. Up to this point, that’s been my biggest risk I’ve taken, deciding to do it all on my own, production wise.”

RELATED: J. Cole Acknowledges Slight OCD

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99 Comments

  • Anonymous

    50 cent had eminem's backing thus whiye people supported

  • Anonymous

    "If Eminem was black but put out the same albums and material, he wouldn't be as successful" 50 Cent was basically the black Eminem and had unbelievable success right off the bat. If people like you, they support you. There's really no other way to look at or justify success. All the black rappers who hated Eminem had the same resources and opportunities that he did. They just didn't utilize them.

  • Anonymous

    "but the issue is that people know a black man cant be a doctor/lawyer" There are African American doctors and lawyers all around the country, you fucking retard. Maybe people are assuming Cole is a basketball player or rapper because of the way he comes off. If more than one person has asked him that then it's something he's projecting.

  • dentaldamboy

    Wayne Has made every type of song out there, whether it's rap, pop, hip-hop, rock or even anything, this guy has definitely been on top, most people in this world know this man, he beat Elvis Presley at most songs in the Billboard hot 100, he and Eminem are the only rappers that have had not one but two albums that went platinum in a week and him and Tupac are the only rappers in history that had a Number 1 hit album while in jail, he's definitely doing something right

  • Anonymous

    "I promise you, 60 percent of the time somebody asks me what basketball team do I play for or do I rap" Newsflash retard, you do rap lol

    • ^ Retard

      Hes implying there is a racial stereotype that takes place when hes flying first class, that white people couldnt imagine a black man sitting first class unless he was a rapper or a basketball player. obviously he knows hes a rapper, but the issue is that people know a black man cant be a doctor/lawyer etc.... retard.

  • Doubl Negative

    Kelly was the most talented, prettiest member of Destiny's Child, but Beyonce got all the props cause she's light-skinned. You see it especially in movies with girls like Halle, robin thicke's baby mama and shortie from Star Trek getting roles that could/should go to their equally beautiful chocolate Sisters like Gab Union, Saana Lathan, Kerry or Noaimi Harris. Apologies if I miss spelt any of shortie's names, but they're not in the public lexicon like Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, jennifer Lawrence etc, so their names/images are not plastered on every billboard/magazine like these undeserving actresses.

    • Anonymous

      It has nothing to do with skin color. The only reason Halle Berry is successful is because she used to get naked on film. Ironically, Kerry Washington is advertised every week for her show having sex. Sex sells. The one's who don't do it have a harder time getting that one career making role. They still work, but they also disappear faster.

    • Violator

      It's different for women. We objectify them regardless of complexion, so that's a different conversation. Look at actors though, Denzel and Morgan Freeman are dark and white people love them

  • jg

    Lil Wayne, JayZ, Diddy and Kanye West are all dark skinned and are more successful than this dude will ever be..

  • TalkingJiberish

    Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah blah blah.

  • Anonymous

    stop blaming colour, just an excuse 4 black these days

  • Andrew

    Honestly tho, he should use other ppl's beat because his are just ok.

    • Anonymous

      He said it's a risk he's taken and it has paid off. He made "work out" and it went platinum. Imagine writing to your own beat and it being a hit single... multiple times. That's dope.

    • Violator

      Exactly, that's the real issue I have with this dude. How does a whole album have flat beats?

  • Anonymous

    Why can't it just be about talent instead of skin color? Just like the people who like to say Eminem did what he did because he was white.

  • Anonymous

    honestly never noticed till now

  • you let nas down

    I doesn't matter. your a sellout punk bitch who makes music for hoes singing and shit. get tha fuck up out here pussy boy

  • Kizman

    What I learn most about white people from reading these mostly white comments, is that they have a massive superiority complex. They're very self righteous and think they're somehow "above" the things a lot of 'black people' choose to rap about. "How dare they talk about the struggles they had to deal with at the hands of white people, how dare they rap from the perspective a person from a white created ghetto, how dare they rap about having a better life after being deprived of anything and everything their whole lives. They should act like hipsters or pick up a dictionary and use big words to impress us. We control this shit and we should dictate what they do, even though they invented and we're just guests" lol That's what you guys sound like to me. White people have forgotten that they're just guests in our house. They have gotten WAAYYYY to bold and comfortable with this shit, look at these comments. They're no longer just buying rappers music for what it is, or accepting it... They actually think they can control it. They feel entitled to our music, as if it's the natural order of the world for them to take what we have. It's kind of unbelievable to me.

    • Anonymous

      lol What's with people copy and pasting my old comments on here?

    • jj

      @Kizman, black folks like you are a trip, still talking all that 'the white man is the devil' stuff. Not all white folks think they're better than black people, so come off that. Stop lumping every white person in the same category. Its a shame that I'm a black man born and raised in the South, who's probably seen more racism than you ever have, and I don't hate all white people.

    • Rocks

      Get the fuck outta here, Kizman, before I knock you back into the stone age.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah Mo Money, New York Times, Miss America and countless other songs he has are for bitches. FOH with that bullshit.

    • r&b bitch

      j. cole doesn't rap about shit he sings for bitches

    • huh?

      I'm Black btw, if you're referring to me. I just called it like it was. How the fuck do you know the race/ethnicity some of the people commenting if they don't explicitly say what "they are"? No one is saying change how you rap or what you rap about. People such as myself are simply explaining why some artists have sold more than others. How are those baseless assumptions working out for you?

  • J Rock

    "Light skinned this...dark skinned that" is some slave-ass-Willy-Lynch nonsense. It's a white man's philosophy that you brain washed fools are still following...wake the f*** up my brotha's...know your history.

    • Crip4Life

      Em only sold records to the little 12 year hoes and whiteboys. fuck em all. also, FUCK ja rule, FUCK 50 cent, FUCK lil wayne, FUCK soulja boy, FUCK the WHOLE mainstream and radio MUTHAFUCK em all. underground n old school until da real mainstream shit be back like da 80s-90s. westside, MOB, bay to LA!!!!!!

    • pete

      preach my brotha, divide and conquer

  • Anon

    Really J.Cole? So how does Kanye's dark skinned self get the kind of sales you can only dream about?

  • JhonDaAnalyst

    To the white supremacist culture, we're all niggas so wake the fuck up and be glad you're fuckin alive today and not in prison....smdh Elementary school niggas conducting paper bag tests. GTFOH....btw I think J.Cole is wrong on this one but if that how he feels fuck it....We'll never know about what your success path would have been like because u are who u are idiot

  • Anonymous

    FUCK HIPHOP! THIS DUDE IS COMPLAINING ABOUT BEING LIGHT SKINNED BUT LATINOS HAVE BEEN KEPT OUT OF THE HIPHOP INDUSTRY. WE WERE THERE IN THE BEGINNING. SOME OF HIPHOPS PIONEERS ARE OF LATINO DECENT. SO YES HIPHOP IS RACIST. BLACK PEOPLE DONT WANT TO BE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, BUT THEY DO THE SAME SHIT TO OTHER RACES. AINT THAT SOME SHIT?!!!!

    • Andrew

      the fuck?! Im half latino and i think some more latino rappers would be dope but come the fuck on. it seems like white rappers have an easier path which is WACK. there are a lot dpe white rappers tho like action bronson el-p and aesop rock

    • BeReal

      Latino rappers have been "kept out" it's bet you get at the white people who sign most rappers. Also the latinos who were around in the beginning were BLACK LATINOS not the Ricky Martin type. Lets be honest though... Which Latin rappers have made noise apart from Pun & Joe? A lot of you dudes just don't appeal to White or Black fans. ESPECIALLY when you rap in Spanish. Who has time for that?. Daddy Yankee & Pitbull are awful!

    • Blacktino

      Bro, if Latino's are being "kept out" it means the White A&Rs and music execs who run the industry and not signing them. Blacks are just the hired help, we don't own or control any major record labels in the country, so don't blame us. And I recall Fat Joe and Big Pun getting major love from BLACK audiences back in the day.

    • wetbacks are dirty

      Shut up wetback! Aren't there borders that you should crossing illegally or a drug cartel that you should be attending to. You got Pun's fat ass, he was dope.

  • MarchParks

    check it out www.earna6figureincome.com

  • subz

    J. Cole is talking shiiiiit. Punk. He needs to shut up

  • Anonymous

    All that matters is that my man Wesley Snipes put us dark brothers on the map in the 90s.

  • HEY Yo

    You're a sub par overrated pretty boy rapper. And you're just now figuring out this? If you looked like MC Eight you definitely wouldn't be on the radio.

  • Maureen A. Hammitt

    just as Patrick explained I'm alarmed that anybody able to profit $4602 in 4 weeks on the computer. have you read this webpage... www.cafe44.com Generally women lookin for a scholarship are probably fresh outta high school going away to college at the end of the month and are probably 17 or 18 year old! thats over half his age!!!!

  • pope

    succesful "dark skinned" rappers. lil wayne, 50 cent, rick ross, future, meek mill, wale, the late notorious b.i.g. & 2 chainz to just name a few. All are making tons of money. idk. he's entitled to his opinion though.

  • THIS CALLS FOR GUCCI TIME

    ITSSSSSSSSSSSS GUCCCCCCCCCIIIIIIIIIIII TIMMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEE BIG GUWOP GUCCI IS THE REALEST NIGGA THESE LIGHT SKINNED NIGGAS AINT REAL NIGGAS all you fuck faces complain about rappers being fake and phony. when you finally get a real rapper who doesnt rap about fantasies you still complain. You little internet nerds never husttled u never lived that street life. You dont know shit about the streets. All you fuckboys know is how to go on the internet and act like a bunch of nerd groupies. Show sum respect for a real nigga like GUCCI.

  • detroit niggroe

    Lol another example of a light skinned weak ass nigga. I rest my case

  • Hip Hop Fan

    J.Cole is talking out of his ass and trying to sound smart. With rap, it's all about the record company and if you have that machine behind you. Makes no sense for skin tone to play such a big role in rap when it didn't 10/20 years ago when the world was more racist and less accepting. How in the world was Biggie able to sell records? Black and ugly as ever is how he out it. With RnB singers this might be an issue because it's all based on sex appeal but nobody can tell me Jay-Z and Biggie sold records based on looks.

  • ETK

    it's so true doe. ladies fall head over heels for that lightskin shit. they probably don't even care how lyrical he can be, but they feel proud for digging a rapper who is. the second he drops a club banger, they fawnin over his ass

  • Dark Skinned Nigga

    Dark skinned niggaz rappin' on the front while light skinned bitches twerkin' in the background.

  • mike

    Wow, He really said something that is in our heads( White or Black) and its sad cause what is saying really true. Take a look a rappers like Roc marciano who is by far batter than cole or kendrik and yet he has not sold a lot of copies, why? Being a black is still going to be a problem in music especially rap. Rap is the only music I know which has a lot of critics, why? Well its niggro music and I agree it can sometimes suck but not as compared to rock music which widely viewed as good music while rap is bad.

  • Drake runs rap

    j cole spits the truth for once. Dark skinned niggas aint shit. We light skinned niggas run hiphop

  • Drake runs rap

    besides weezy tha god of course hes allways the legend of hiphop

  • Anonymous

    He's right and wrong, in hip hop it doesn't matter wether you're light or dark skinned black guy, but in higher society's like Obama it does

  • Not Impressed

    I'm glad J Cole is man enough to admit this. I've been saying this from the beginning. There are many rappers who make the same kind of generic music J Cole makes, but they're not doing the same kind of numbers. Wale for example is on the same level as J Cole, but he never makes it to 200k. Why? Because white people don't buy his records. White people don't buy Rick Ross records, white people don't buy Meek Mill records, white people don't buy Big Krit records. But they buy Drake, they buy J Cole. The only way a darker skinned black person will sell in this era, is if he's nerdy, or wears some kind of hipster clothes. Those are the "safe" negros to support. That's why people like Kendrick are able to sell records, they're safe looking to white people. But I bet Jay Rock isn't going to sell shit when he drops. The world has changed and become more white washed. In the 90's/early 2000's darker skinned people sold records no problem. DMX, Lauryn Hill, 50 Cent, etc all sold millions...But in this new era, white culture is more prominent and dominant, and those who look like they're too far away from that culture, are not successful. I'm not impressed

    • Tim

      yo wth is TUPAC,BIG, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West LMAO first off, white people buy rap records , check the numbers and the demographics....Two, this is the type of dark skinned /light skinned mentality that seeks to divide and conquer!!!

    • bobby

      this is a reply to anonymous..you don't see A WHITE ENTERTAINMENT CHANNEL OR WHITE POWER SHOWS because everybody already know that it is controlled by white people..they dont need to mention it. But black people if we don't stick together, we wont be able to get ahead in society. by ahead i dont mean higher than white,,i mean equal

    • Anonymous

      BLACK PEOPLE ARE THE BIGGEST RACIST. EVEN OVER WHITES...U DONT SEE A WHITE ENTERTAINMENT CHANNEL OR WHITE POWER SHOWS ON REGULAR TV LIKE BLACKS DO...EVEN BLACK DATING SITES..WTF? BUT THEN U TURN AROUND AND SAY U ARE EQUAL...GTFOH WITH THAT BULLSHIT!

    • Bruh

      as a white guy i bought jay rocks shit and krits shit and its all damn good, we all bleed red who the hell cares about skin colour we're one race called human

    • Hip Hop Fan

      If it came down to skin tone there would be more white rappers moving serious units.

    • Hip Hop Fan

      Did you grow up in the 90s and live through that era? It's a dumb conversation to be having right now when Hip Hop's influence can be seen world wide. 'Safe' music is pop music. No artist with a hardcore Hip Hop record can sell on a massive scale. It has to have crossover appeal.

    • huh?

      Ice Cube, Mobb Deep, ATCQ, Public Enemy, all of whom have had pretty successful rap careers, don't have any records that have sold over 3 million and they were around putting out great records during the 90's. It's got way less to due with skin color, than it does safe shiny suit, poppy gangsta rap. Neither of NWA's records sold over 3 million in the US and that's because they weren't as safe as other alternatives. Juvenile's 400 Degreez had back dat ass up...Biggie had one more chance...those are poppy tunes compared to any NWA or Ice Cube song (off his first 3 albums). It's quite obvious what has always sold records and it ain't skin color.

    • Not Impressed

      Lil Wayne, Kanye, and Jay-Z are all the "safe" black people I described. Wayne is a skateboarder and Kanye and Jay-Z dress like hipsters. White people feel comfortable with people like that. Twerking wasn't known or popular outside of the hiphop community until Miley (white girl) did it. Obama is half white, and wouldn't have been elected if he had dark skin. The 90s/early 2000's was not more racist then it is now...If any of those rappers who sold a lot back then, came out now, they would all flop.

    • Hip Hop Fan

      That's ass backwards. How is white culture more prominent when Miley Cyrus is twerking on stage with Juicy J and we have a Black President? You can't say the 90s was more accepting during the OJ trail and Rodney King beating! J.Cole is talking out of his ass. How is it possible for Ja Rule, 50 Cent, DMX, Pac, Biggie, Snoop etc to sell millions in a more racist era as dark skinned brothers compared to this era? Ross and Mills ain't selling because 50 Cent killed the street talk era. Everything runs in cycles like when Puff had the shiny suit era and then DMX just came in and made it gritty.

    • huh?

      Lil' Wayne, Kanye, Jay-Z I'd argue that it has to do more with safe music irrespective of who the artist is. Yes 50 Cent is a big Black dude, but songs like In Da Club, PIMP, Candy Shop constitute safe music. His biggest singles are all kinda gay. Also people affiliated with Dre sell when they come out, whether it's Em, Game, 50, or Kendrick (a million now is at least equal to 3 million 10-15 years ago). The Fugees sold because they were safe and fun. Even X's biggest singles were gay and catchy. Stop being greedy, which is a lot less poppy didn't fair as well as ruff ryders anthem, party up in here, what's my name. If all your songs are about murder and killing and it's on some real shit, not some shiny suit Puffy and Dre shit, of course people aren't going to run out and buy that. That lifestyle is not indicative of the majority of people irrespective of skin color. Also if your songs aren't poppy and you can't dance to them they ain't going to sell either.

  • Anonymous

    Its big for him to say, but i don't know if its totally true. I'll admit though, for Kendrick to be big is a testament to dark skinned niggas. He's right about obama and certain situations, i just don't know if it pertains to his.

  • Anonymous

    Intelligent black people will understand this. READ the Mis-Education of the negro & it will put things into perspective

  • Anonymous

    Andre 3000, Biggie, MC Hammer, Tupac, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Kanye West,DMX...etc...

  • Anonymous

    I hate J.cole forgets he is half white

    • Anonymous

      he doesnt forget. In America, if you have any drop of black in you, then you are considered black. white folks don't see Cole and say he's half white. they see a negro.

    • Anonymous

      he actually mentions it allot in his work

  • j.cole

    bro am your fan but kill this race thing and do your thing and if you ain't gon rap get the fuck out of roc nation and let Hov sing another nigga.

  • gr

    I don't think so, Jermaine. I understand what you are trying to say -- and there is truth in saying that people do judge you by the tone of your skin (unfortunately); however, as it pertains to success, if you take you out and put someone like... let's say... Kanye West in, your point becomes negated. Kanye was essentially under almost the *identical* circumstances as you were and became super-successful. Yet he is dark-skinned. I think there are many variables which determine the potential for success as a rapper -- I just don't think skin-tone holds as much weight as you think it does in that department.

    • Violator

      You can't compare Kanye West to J Cole, Kanye was soo much better. What he's saying is if there was 2 J Coles who made the same quality music, the lighter complexion one would sell more. It's true

  • One

    A light skinned rapper is still a rapper, nigga. Even if you were dark skin, you'd still have a contract. Look at Trinidad James. Ugliest nigga in the world and he's on MTV.

    • BP

      that's as far as he'll go though. skin color don't matter that much but it's a factor. connects can get you far too

  • Anonymous

    bullshit, there are plenty dark skinned rappers that were hugely successful, Rakim comes to mind, you aren't getting too much more African looking than KRS1

  • UOENO

    In my opinion, these type of articles perpetuate the stereotype that light-skinned blacks are better than dark-skinned blacks. He could talk all day about if this or if that. Maybe his career wouldn't be where it is today if he were shorter, if he wasn't signed with Jay-Z, etc. Tupac, Biggie, Lil Wayne are all dark-skinned and are/were very successful. Just my 2 cents.

  • Anonymous

    You light skin niggas went out of style a long time ago. Idris Elba > Will Smith Kendrick Lamar > J Cole

  • Ummmm.....

    fuckin embarrassing. reading rappers pop off at the mouth with their half baked train of thought assumptions and ideas. it's frustrating to read this type of stuff in text form in an article. it's a joke. seriously j. cole your success would have been stifled if you weren't on roc nation. you could have put the same album out on a different label, and no way are you gettin the numbers you are now. i barely see you gettin buzz, certainly not enough for the sales numbers you get. jay-z doesn't like to lose so you lucky holmes.

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