Like many of us it seems, J. Cole has decided to (once again) break out of the mold the world has placed him in this year. Having spent his last three albums against the machine of sorts (yes, he’s with Roc Nation, but I’m sure you get the point), the North Carolinian emcee and his Dreamville crew are now on the aggressive, firing off projects and Debo’ing features left and right.
This gradual change is a centerpiece of Cole’s new feature in GQ, where Allison P. Davis takes us through Cole’s career and personal changes, as well as what he has in store for Hip-Hop in the future. He also gets an unintentionally-hilarious, Jidenna-esque styling courtesy of Mobolaji Dawodu (not to say some of the pieces weren’t fire, but still some chuckle-worthy moments as can be seen via Black Twitter).
Check out the full feature here…a couple of quotes from the editorial piece can be found below. In related news: don’t forget about his forthcoming Dreamville Fest, now set to take place next month.
Recently he got some time to travel with his family. They went to Maui. He really wanted to just chill, but the others wanted to do the only thing you’re truly supposed to do when you’re a tourist in Maui: take the road to Hana to see a majestic waterfall. “I never wanna do excursions. It feels like work. It’s like, I ain’t trying to get up at 6 A.M., take the three-hour drive to where we’re going hiking.” Years ago, he might have insisted on hanging back and going to the beach alone. But he realized, “I got somebody I care about saying, ‘Come on, like, we need to do this.’ ” So he did. “I realize, like, memories come from getting out of my comfort zone—great memories.”
His two early mixtapes, The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights, are considered classics. He’s released five albums, all of them platinum-certified chartbusters. Three of these went platinum with no features—as in, without the help of appearances by other artists. To J. Cole diehards, this is a point of pride they love to recite in response to a mention of “Drake” or “Kendrick” or any other name in the “generation’s best rapper” debate. So much so that the phrase “J. Cole went platinum with no features” has become a persistent slogan, like something advertising execs dreamed up around a conference table. “I was loving it,” he says. “I was like, ‘Word up—this is funny as hell.’ But the second or third time, I was like, ‘All right, it’s almost embarrassing now.’ Like, ‘All right, man, y’all gonna make me put a feature on the album just so this s*** can stop.’”
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