J. Cole and Dale Earnhardt Jr. appear side-by-side on the cover of ESPN the Magazine‘s latest offering, “The Music Issue.”
Dale is in the driver’s seat and J. Cole is riding passenger.
The cover story, titled “The Perfect Strangers,” unites the pair for the first time ever at the Nascar driver’s Cleveland, North Carolina residence.
It began when Cole name-dropped Earnhardt at the end of his 2014 Forest Hills Drive album.
In between thanking those that contributed to the album – his momma and Jonah Hill – Cole expresses his gratitude towards Dale Earnhardt Jr. for his words of wisdom.
“That shit you said to me changed my life,” he says in jest, on “Note to Self.”
During their conversation for the magazine, Cole, 29, says he was “freaked out” when he heard Earnhardt Jr., 40, say he enjoyed listening to “Power Trip” in an interview.
“You don’t think somebody on that level would ever hear your stuff,” Cole says. “From there, I never forgot. I was always like, ‘Yo, I ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'”
Cole chose to say Earnhardt Jr.’s name during his credits and the rest is history.
“Everywhere I go now – the airport, the store – people say, ‘Yo, Cole, I love that album, bro, it’s a classic.’ And Dale Earnhardt Jr., it’s the first thing they bring up,” he says. “It’s already a thing in Hip Hop, already an inside joke that’s going to live forever.”
Watch behind-the-scenes footage of the cover below and read the full ESPN cover story here.
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