A lot of time people under-estimate the intelligence of a “black” man especially a “black” man who just so happens to be a successful rapper. However, rapper J. Cole is not your ordinary typically uneducated rapper.
In a new interview with CNN while on tour he talked openly about his days at legendary St. John’s University in Brooklyn, New York where he graduated magna cum laude. He also spoke on how he got signed to Jay-z’s Roc Nation, his new album, success & more.
CNN: You’ve done a bunch of mixtapes and had a few false starts before “Cole World” finally was released. How does it feel now that it’s out, and the debut was so big?
J Cole: It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long time. It’s relief. I’ve been carrying this since 2007, since right around when I was about to graduate college. In school, everything was a blur: fun, then partying, then homework, then rinse and repeat.
Then graduation hit me, and I was like, ‘Oh, snap.’ From that time in 2007, until right now, my life has been full of stress like you can’t believe. One moment after another of: ‘I gotta get this record deal. Oh, Jay-Z likes me, how do I get him to sign? He signed me! Oh s**t, now I gotta put out an album. I finished the album — now I gotta drop a single!’
The past three years have been filled with that stress for me, like I’ve been under a constant heavy weight, a heavy burden. I don’t jump out of bed every day and scream “Yeah!” but the relief is a great feeling. I feel free, for the first time in a long time.
CNN: How does it feel to be headlining your own tour now after opening for Jay-Z and Rihanna’s tours?
Cole: There was a lot less pressure on me as an opener obviously. In that situation, it’s almost like you’re there to steal fans from the headliner, steal a little bit of the spotlight and make them your fans, too.
When you’re headlining, people are paying to come see you specifically. It’s a different kind of pressure, because you’ve got to deliver. You’ve got to give these people what they paid for. It’s a different mind state, a different type of mentality, but it’s honestly a pretty good problem to have, you know?
CNN: One thing that’s been big on your mixtapes and “Cole World” is how you favor electronic, almost video game-like beats and melodies. Where does that come from?
Cole: I don’t know what it is. It’s not really a conscious thing, like I’m thinking my raps should sound like I’m in a video game. I just really love that sound. But yeah, if you listen to, say, ‘Lost Ones,’ you can definitely hear a video game-synth type of sound. I really dig that kind of production.
CNN: What’s been your favorite night of the tour so far?
Cole: This has definitely been one of the best shows I’ve done so far, just in terms of my performance and the crowd, the energy. I’ve had so many good shows on this tour so far. Like, legendary-feeling shows, so many sold-out dates. Toronto, Vancouver, Tampa, Denver, L.A., Phoenix — so many of these places were showing me so much love.
Being on tour after dropping the album and doing all these crazy shows has probably been one of the best periods in my life. [source]
Congrats to Cole for getting an actual education before jumping into the music industry…that’s a huge accomplishment especially for an African-American male.