With a platinum single, a gold record and Grammy nomination already to his, J. Cole has positioned himself to be one of 2012’s most promising artists. Now, the Roc Nation rapper talks about what it took him to get where he is now and how his boss Jay-Z advised him on his path to success.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Cole spoke on his numerous accomplishments this past year and following in Hova’s footsteps. He said that Jay taught him that the best way to navigate his career is to simply follow his instinct. Furthermore, he added that Jay’s hands-off approach pushed him not to rest on his laurels and focus on growing his brand.

“I’m grateful for everything that happened, but I’m not satisfied. There [are] still accomplishments that keep happening from the work that I put in last year and from the last two, three years…but those are just reminders of the work that I did. That’s in the past. Like, what’s the next move? That’s my mind state,” he explained. “Early in my album process [Jay-Z] was like, ‘When you’re first starting out, it’s good to not know everything.’ He made the analogy that when you’re first starting it’s almost like you’re trying to get across a room, but the room is pitch-black, and when you finally get to the other side of the room and you flick on the light, you look back and you realize there were snakes over here, there was a hole over there…but because you were following your heart, you made the right decision.”

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He added, “One thing I appreciate about Jay-Z is he let me do it my way and let me figure it out…he never compromised or interfered with my creative process. There was a never a point when he was like, ‘I need to come in and play big brother and show you how to do this.’ He let me figure it out, and it feels better to win like that. It feels better winning knowing that I figured this thing out on my own and if it wouldn’t have worked, I would have been OK with bumping my head and failing on my own terms, rather than winning on somebody else’s.”

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