“I wrote a rap when Pac died,” said Cole in a recent interview with Hardknock TV. “I was in 6th grade…I felt compelled to write a rap..That’s like the first official rap I ever wrote. I feel like I was talking about him. Almost like I had to carry the torch or something…in my six grade mind. Then I took a break for like a year. Not even a break, I just never… rapped again for a year. I think what it was that made me want to rap is that when I actually tried it, I was good, and it was such an ill feeling to get that response an affect people like that, to make people go ‘oh!'”
Cole recalled the very day he decided he’d fully commit to being a Hip Hop artist. “When I decided I wanted to rap, I remember it was a big day,” he said. “It was a Saturday. I took the whole day and meticulously ripped down all my basketball posters, and cut out all the pictures of the Rap magazines that I had: Source, Blaze, XXL, cut out the covers, pictures, and hung ’em up. And what I had on top of that, right next to my bed, literally, if I wake up and turn to the right, the wall that was right next to my bed was the lyrics. I had pages and pages and pages of lyrics. And to make my wall, you had to be amazin’. You had to be Nas, Eminem, Canibus. You had to be… Royce [Da 5’9] would get a verse, Pac. I used to sit, wake up, and even if I’m just in my room, chillin’, read the verses. I already knew ’em word for word, but reading the words was special. Like readin’ ’em out. I don’t know why I did it, but I felt compelled.”
Cole fast-forwarded to when his Rap career took off, shortly after Jay Z signed him to his burgeoning Roc Nation music label. “When I was sitting at dinner, [they said] ‘Oh, we want to link you with Wale’… for sure,” said Cole. “I go meet Wale, I do ‘Beautiful Bliss’… and then Wale showed up after that, and he allowed me to just open up for him on these shows, because ‘Chillin” had just dropped, they were about to promo him… So, like, anything on the East Coast we would go to. But we not like on a bus. I’d just gotten a deal, but we ain’t got no real money… We either take my car and drive up to Syracuse, or hop in my other homeboy car, and drive down to Virginia.”
Watch the interview below:
Prior to 2013’s Born Sinner, J. Cole released the Truly Yours mixtape in February.