J. Cole is Billboard’s reluctant cover star for the second annual Hip Hop Power Players issue. During the interview — which he confesses he “was not in the mood” for — the Dreamville boss addressed a myriad of topics, including Donald Trump.
He reveals why he didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton (in fact, he didn’t vote in the 2016 election at all) and admits there’s a plus side to having Trump in office.
“With Trump in office, I love that America gets to see the truth,” he explains. “If Hillary Clinton was in office, it would be the most fucking disingenuous shit because everybody would be thinking that everything’s cool because we got an incredibly qualified female president. Which would’ve been amazing on so many levels.
“But all the shit we see right now would’ve still existed; it would’ve just been quiet. And I prefer this shit to be out loud. I prefer an honest America. I prefer the world seeing that, yes, we’re a country that is dumb enough — no disrespect — [that] we got duped into electing Donald Trump.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Cole opened up the K.O.D. track “1985,” which Lil Pump assumed was a diss aimed at him and other SoundCloud rappers. The two eventually sat down for a candid one-on-one conversation in an attempt to understand one another. But Cole doesn’t see the track as “being harsh.”
“I look at it as being a rap response record,” he says. “It’s not even to someone [specific]; it’s a group of people who were on some ‘Fuck J. Cole’ shit, which, when I started peeking my head back into what was going on, was a shock.
“But even while I made the song, I was fucking with these kids. I was a fan. I was riding around playing Lil Pump just because I wanted to understand what it was, and the more I understood, it was like, ‘Damn.’ I was writing that song from a place of, like, smacking your little brother. I still love you, but I’ma smack you.”
Cole then opens up about a three-hour conversation he had with the late XXXTENTACION, who was facing similar allegations at the time of his death.
“When I found out [about the abuse allegations against him], my first response was, ‘Man, I hope maybe one day I’ll get a chance to talk to this kid and figure out if there’s any place that I can help’ because anybody who would do the shit that he did … Hurt people hurt people,” he says. “I’ve walked through prisons and talked to these dudes who got life.
“They took someone’s life at 16 or 17 years old. You haven’t had the chance to process your trauma at that age. I’ma be sympathetic to a kid who has clearly been through so much fucked-up shit that he inflicted this on someone else.”
“That hurt,” he says. “I ain’t going to lie. That hurts. [Pauses.] It feels weird because I fuck with Nas, but I just have to be honest. I came up seeing too much fucked-up shit for that to be acceptable. I don’t care who it is. I don’t fuck with people abusing women, and I don’t fuck with people not taking care of their kids.”
Read the full interview here.