Although Fayetteville, North Carolina rapper J. Cole signed to the Jay Z-led Roc Nation in 2009, he says Jay was a mentor of his long before he was signed to the Brooklyn, New York lyricist’s label.

While speaking with Live With Steve Lobel, Cole revealed that he studied Jay’s moves prior to signing to Roc Nation and said that when given the chance to tour with Jay Z he took away a few “gems” from the rapper.

“Jay was mentor before I ever signed to him,” J. Cole said in a video posted on BlurredCulture.com. “I studied his moves that much…I got to go on tour with him and steal a lot of gems. That’s how you supposed to do it. You’re supposed to learn and take pieces from the greatest. So, Jay was my mentor before I ever signed to him. And now that I signed to him it’s just a blessing to be able to hit him for advice and get that real 20 years of experience or however long he been in the game. It’s priceless.”

Another rapper Cole addressed during his interview was the late Tupac Shakur, an artist he considers his favorite rapper. According to Cole, prior to coming across Tupac’s 2Pacalypse Now album thanks to his stepfather, his favorites ranged from Michael Jackson to Bobby Brown.

The Dreamville representer went on to explain that despite his age there was an immediate connection with Pac’s music.

“My favorite rapper was Pac,” he said. “He was my favorite rapper before I even started rapping. Before I even thought of—It went from Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown as a kid and artists like that. Even Kool Moe Dee. Just the cool dude that I looked up to. And then one day my stepfather came home from—I don’t know if he was back from Desert Storm…I remember him coming home with that first Pac album. With ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby.’ It was 2Pacalypse Now. And since then—When I was too young to know what he was talking about, but it connected. Cause that’s the thing about art. It’s just truth. It’s straight—Whatever you feel. So, even as a seven-year-old kid, eight-year-old kid I could hear Pac’s early albums and feel the truth.”

In regards to his current favorites, J. Cole revealed that he’s not as in tune with new music as he used to be since he’s focused on the music he’s creating for the people.

“I’m not in tuned,” Cole said. “Because I’m not that dude—I’m not that kid that was on the websites checking for new music. I’m not. I’ve become somebody that’s really trying to tap into myself and make something new and something great to give to the people.”

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