Exclusive: The Roc Nation emcee/producer says he'd like to produce for Nas, Wale and Beyonce, and compares his two acclaimed mixtapes.
After Roc Nation’s artist J. Cole performed an array of songs off of his mixtapes The Come Up and The Warm Up at the University of Maryland last week, he sat down with HipHopDX to discuss his opinion of his own two mixtapes, as well as the differences between the two. “I don’t think either one of them I like better. I mean certain days, I’m feelin’ a certain way and I’d probably pick one over the other. But I think The Come Up was way more raw; it’s raw just straight rappin'. I am just trying to prove I can really rap with anybody, I can hang with anybody. I was trying to keep up with the [Lil] Wayne’s and all that at that time. And then The Warm Up was more so me trying to show that I can put together an album and a body of work, something with songs, and a concept, and it flows, and a sequence that tells a story. So that’s more like what The Warm Up was about. I think my style was more represented with The Warm Up. That’s my style now.”
Cole's style heard on The Warm Up seems to be effective, as quite a few songs have been huge successes with his fan base. “Lights Please” and “Get Up” are two such songs, and are also favorites of the North Carolina rapper. “Those are some of my favorites too. I think people like when you talk about something these days. It’s more than just the generic flashy ‘I get a lot of girls, I’m fly.' I do those songs and those verses [too], and those are cool, but how many of those can you do? So I think it's refreshing for people to hear somebody actually hitting you with a concept, and talking about issues, and not in a corny way. Some rappers do it, but it’s corny like, ‘Man I don’t want to hear this nigga preaching to me on this song.' But to me, I feel like it doesn’t come off preachy, I feel like it’s almost like we are having a conversation. I am almost like your friend, some days we talk about bullshit, and some days we actually talk about some real shit. I feel like that’s how you feel when you listen to my music. Whatever you want to discuss, I got a song for.”
The Warm Up also showed a different side of J. Cole, adding another title to his name: producer. “People don’t know that all the songs they love off of The Warm Up, I produced those. 'Lights Please' 'Grown Simba,' 'I Get Up,' 'Losing My Balance;' these songs were produced by me. I’m not a good self-promoter so I don’t go around saying, ‘Hey rapper-producer J. Cole.' As soon as I’m done with the album, that’s my main priority; producing for other people, and finding an artist, and developing an artist, and producing a whole album, because I feel like that’s how you really get your sound.”
When asked what artists he would like to produce, J. Cole stated, “I would do a whole Nas album, I feel like I got one more classic waiting. I believe that somehow if he someone reads this, I got a classic waiting for him. I’d produce a Wale album. If I could really get my weight up, I would produce a Beyonce album. Not just because she’s Beyonce and she’s the biggest, just because I feel like she’s the best.”
Though J. Cole’s career is just beginning, he has big plans for himself in the next five years. “I hope to have four or five classic albums. And just have more freedom to do what I want. If I want to write a movie, I want to be able to write a movie, if I want to act, I want to be able to act. I want to have my production game on a whole other level. I want to be respected as a producer, really respected as a producer. So hopefully that will take off too.”
With his debut album currently in the works, fans have been anxious for the arrival of the album. We asked J. Cole to tell us in one sentence, what we can expect from his album. With a confident answer, he replied, “Something that lasts forever.”
Written and Reported by Amaiya Davis.