J. Cole Talks Storytelling, Working with Jay-Z & Kendrick Lamar
Cole talks about trading verses with Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, and how 'Pac and Nas taught him the art of storytelling.
HardKnockTV recently caught up with rapper/producer J. Cole to discuss his upcoming debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story. Although he is currently making the rounds pushing the project's latest single "Work Out," the Roc Nation hopeful confirmed that Hova will indeed make an appearance on an as-of-yet untitled track.
Cole explains that although Jay has yet to lay his verse down on the self-produced track, which already features two of his verses, he’s afraid of being upstaged by the Brooklyn vet. He also adds that the first time he'd ever really been lyrically ousted by a fellow rapper on one of his own beats was on Kendrick Lamar’s "Temptations."
"I produced [a song that will feature Jay-Z]," he said. "He didn’t lay his verse yet, but the beat is hard…I didn’t really foresee me wanting Jay on it [when I made it], so now I’m in a position where I’m like, 'Man, should I go in on it?' I'm a rapper at heart. I want to get everybody – not saying that I could get Jay-Z. But it’s a great song how it is. I’ve got two verses and a hook…but I just don’t want Jay to come and kill me and destroy me right quick.”
He added, "The first time I met with Kendrick Lamar…[and] got up on some music shit, I was just so excited that I gave him some of my beats. 'HiiiPoWer' was one of them…which he killed and destroyed, and another one of them was the song that I've got now called 'Temptations.' When I gave him the beat, it already had my verse on it, and I was like, 'Yo, I've got this crazy beat with an ill verse on it – just do [what you want] with it.' I'm telling you, you should never give a nigga like Kendrick Lamar home court advantage, 'cus he came back with an incredible verse. My verse is still crazy…but [his] was the first verse anybody ever spit on one of my songs where I was like, 'You little motherfucker.'"
J. Cole also discusses how Nas and 2Pac influenced him as an emcee. He explains that their anecdotal leanings helped him to be able to write more conceptually-driven material and bring to life different narratorial perspectives besides his own.
"There's a few things…that I’ve studied a lot in rap. I've studied the raw, vicious rappers, the Canibus's and Eminem's, and then I’ve studied the storytellers like the Pac's and the Nas's. I've studied all these things and one thing I've noticed that I bring to the table…that was not really present [over the past few years] is the storytelling side, and that's always been a joy of mine…of course, on the album, I'll give a lot of my real stories…but there’s also my friends’ stories and your stories, and I feel like anything you've ever been through in the past…I’m trying to find a way to tell that story…I feel like if I do that, I'll never run out [of material]."
The full interview with J. Cole can be viewed below.