J. Cole was recently honored alongside The Band Perry, Skrillex, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver for Best New Artist at the 2012 Grammys, but he didn’t expect to get the nod. During an interview with LA Times‘ Pop & Hiss, the Roc Nation rapper explained his surprise in learning of his nomination and that if he doesn’t take home the gramophone, he won’t catch any feelings.

“I wasn’t thinking people had seen what I had done, so I had already kind of prepared myself for the letdown. But it caught me off guard,” he said. “It would be incredible to win. That’s an understatement … since I didn’t even expect to get nominated. But I’m not walking in there with the attitude that I’m the guy [to beat]. But if I won, I’d know why. And if I didn’t win, I’d understand.”

He also spoke on why he thinks his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story struck a chord with mainstream audiences. Cole was unsure if his fans would actually purchase the album, leaving him on edge.

I don’t think it was one thing. I think it was a combination of putting out quality projects like mixtapes that sounded like albums. We only call them mixtapes because they are free. And I’ve been touring for two and a half years straight. I just put the album out two months ago. I already had a strong foundation of fans, I just wasn’t sure that they would buy the album.”

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