J. Cole sat down with Angie Martinez for a highly-anticipated and rare interview.
Taking place at Salaam Remi’s house in Miami, where Cole headlined Rolling Loud over the weekend, the KOD chart-topper opened with a conversation about the late Amy Winehouse and why he shies away from interviews.
“I realize I’m a dangerous interview because it’s hard for me to lie,” he said. “It’s hard for me to not go in on the whole truth.”
During the 90-minute conversation, they discussed Cardi B, breaking Drake’s streaming record, and his thoughts on Kanye West’s controversial tweets.
“When you come and you empower a demographic of people that their whole intent is to suppress and oppress people, then it’s like I can’t rock with that,” said Cole, who received a call from Kanye.
Wearing a Jamaica, Queens T-shirt, he also revealed why his joint album with Kendrick Lamar is not happening, at least for now. However, he is working on The Fall Off and an album from his alter ego kiLL edward, which he describes as “the future.”
ON BREAKING DRAKE’S SPOTIFY RECORD: “He text me. He said, ‘I hate you.’ Nah, I didn’t hear from him.”
ON CARDI B: “I just feel like people give her so much advice. I saw an interview and I just felt like, ‘Damn. They putting mad pressure on this girl to try to beat herself. She had the No. 1 song in the country, it was the biggest song last year. People were like, ‘What’s next? What about the album?’ I know what it’s like to be in those shoes. I wanted to say something like, ‘You already won.’ You could drop an album that don’t do nothing, which she didn’t, she dropped an album and it killed.”
ON SOCIAL MEDIA: “I was off it for so long that I thought that I had beat this addiction, and then I got back on it and I realized like, ‘Nah. You just took a break.’ I didn’t face it head on. I think the fix right now is let me get on it and become conscious of the pull, the feelings. I don’t like something pulling my strings. If I’m making this decision, it’s because I’m consciously saying, ‘I wanna do this and I’m OK with the repercussions.’”
ON KILL EDWARD: “He’s just this artist, he’s fire though…. Nah, he’s me. After Forest Hills Drive, I started feeling like J. Cole, the name, I started feeling like it was a box. I had told so much of my story from The Come Up, The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights, first album, Born Sinner, Forest Hills Drive, it was always about me. My aspirations, my goals, my dreams, my pains. It was a box, I started feeling limited. I had been telling my story for so many projects, so many songs. It was like, ‘Yo, I don’t want to talk about myself no more.’ I checked that box, it’s a fire name. When I say kiLL edward, what I’m talking about is the shit that I feel I inherited from him. It’s some shit in me that’s like I don’t like you.”
ON WHY HE DOESN’T HAVE FEATURES ON HIS ALBUM: “I just don’t work like that. I work in a closed off space. I’m very self-contained and I like it like that.”
ON A JOINT ALBUM WITH KENDRICK LAMAR: “We just did a few songs. We did a bunch of ideas. You wouldn’t call it an album, you wouldn’t call it nothing like that. It didn’t come from nowhere, it came from us. But it’s not something that’s actively happening. I don’t want to play with people’s emotions. He got a career, I got a career. I got a family, he got a family. It would have been easier back then.”
ON KANYE WEST: “He called me, but I would have never posted [the phone call] or tell him to post that. That made me feel a certain type of way. I told him that. He apologized. I told him, ‘It felt like you just used my name is that very quick conversation for social media and to keep your thing going.’ It just felt like it wasn’t sincere.
He called me. He said, ‘Yo, I need you to hold me accountable, keep me in check, say whatever you gotta say. I need that. I feed off that.’ I’m like, ‘Are you sure?’ First of all, I’m just a fan. I don’t know you. I’m just a dude that was a fan back in the days. … At one point in time, I put this dude on a major pedestal and he’s not the only one that’s been there. JAY been there, Pac been there, B.I.G. been there, Nas been there. I feel like for the majority of us, our fascination and our interest in celebrities and what they do for us is unhealthy.
The danger in what he’s doing is, I feel like he’s really good at sampling language that will resonate. And it just so happened this time he sampled the wrong shit ’cause he thought that I can make this resonate. But I’ma sample this and this is gonna get me ultimately the end goal is so I can be more powerful and viewed as boom, boom, boom. I’m not comfortable unless I sit in that seat.
When you come and you empower a demographic of people that their whole intent is to suppress and oppress people, then it’s like I can’t rock with that.
ON KANYE’S ‘FREE THINKING’: “It’s enslaved thinking. It’s thinking that’s a slave to your own ego. You’re not free thinking when your ego’s pulling the strings, when your ego’s the one manipulating the conversation.”
ON KANYE-TRUMP COMPARISONS: “To me, Trump is like a similar figure where this is a dude who the only end goal is, I gotta be the man, period. Everything I do just has to ensure that I’m the man. Y’all don’t think I can be president? Watch this. … Those people are dangerous to me because [they’re] manipulative.”
ON CHOOSING YOUNG THUG AS HIS TOURMATE: “He’s just ill. I did get the feedback on that that mad people were surprised. Really it’s just like, the ni**a’s dope. If you want to talk about Young Thug as an artist, he’s an innovator. If you know skills, you call him a mumble rapper all you want, but if you know skills and you know the art of rapping, that dude is a genius.”
ON THE FALL OFF: “That probably won’t come for another year. I’ve been working on it for a year-and-a-half. ‘False Prophets’ was supposed to be on The Fall Off. ‘Everybody Dies’ and ‘False Prophets’ that I put out before 4 Your Eyez Only were songs from The Fall Off. I got kiLL edward’s album I’m working on, which I’m mad excited about. I think I have an EP for The Fall Off. I got more music.”
ON FUTURE PLANS: “I wanna direct, I wanna write movies, I wanna try my hand at acting.”
Watch the full interview below.