After four years of paying creative dues and crafting several acclaimed mixtapes, Roc Nation MC J. Cole is about to break out in a big way with next week’s release of Cole World: The Sideline Story, his debut album (out September 27). Earlier this month we gave you some insight to the record by highlighting it in our Fall Music Preview, where Cole said to expect “an emotional rollercoaster.” Now the rapper elaborates even more on his new material. Read on!
IDOLATOR: Last year you sat down with us and discussed how inspired you were by the music Kendrick Lamar has been putting out. Any plans on collaborating with him?
J. COLE: We’ve got a lot of time to work. You know, we both be on and he’s working steady. He’s getting himself to an incredible place and I’m going to try and get myself to an incredible place. So we got time for that, you know? That’s my man though.
While recording Cole World: The Sideline Story, did you look to other classic albums as inspiration? If so, which ones?
JC: Yeah all the time: so OutKast, Aquemini; Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation [Of Lauryn Hill]; a lot of Tupac albums; Illmatic [by Nas]; Reasonable Doubt [Jay-Z]. I had certain periods of soaking in different albums, which of course I love, but I listen to differently now. College Dropout [Kanye West], Blueprint 3 [Jay-Z]. A lot of different things for different reasons.
What do you personally think makes an album a classic?
JC: The test of time. So like, the first listen you can get, you be like, “This album is a classic.” But you won’t know until three-to-six months later. If you still playin’ it, it’s a classic. A year later and you still playin’ it, it’s a classic. Five years later? Hands down, classic. So, really, little things, like if you’re taking a 10-hour road trip — if I’m gonna drive 10 hours from Fayetteville to New York, I’ve got about six albums I know I’m gonna play. Those are the classics. Hopefully mine is one of those that you gotta pop in on your road trips.
When we highlighted Cole World in our Fall Music Preview, you mentioned that the songs are sequenced perfectly. So you’re basically saying fans won’t get the same effect if they pick and choose certain tracks instead of listening to the record as a whole?
JC: Yeah, exactly. I understand that we’re in a day and age where people get their album and they pick their favorites and they just add them to their playlists, and they might never come back to that album again. But this album ain’t like that. I had the option of maybe putting 16 songs on the album, which I was going to do at the listening session. I’ve skimmed it down a little and dropped like two or three songs and turned them into bonus songs, which makes the flow so much better. You can really listen to it front to back without skipping.
Let’s get down to brass tacks: how many Krispy Kreme donuts did you consume during the recording sessions for the album?
JC: [Laughs] Not as many as you would think. I really don’t know the answer to that. I can tell you that yesterday before we had the first show in Vancouver, when I was coming to soundcheck, these fans were outside with a dozen glazed donuts while I was doing my rehearsal. I hadn’t eaten any food and ended up eating seven of them. I felt disgusting, and thought like, “Yo man, how did I just do that?” I actually got a little lightheaded. [Laughs]
Speaking of your tour, you’re going all over the world. How does it feel to watch people in other countries spitting your rhymes back at you from the audience?
JC: Yeah it’s weird. It’s definitely fuckin’ weird. Incredible. It’s just wild man. I don’t have an album out and it just shows me the power of the Internet. The Internet can break down borders, especially when it comes to music. It’s definitely a mixture of, I feel weird about it and confused, but also proud, like “Shit, I made it over here.”
Last question: Eminem was crowned the King Of Hip Hop by Rolling Stone over the summer. As a fellow rapper in the game, what are your thoughts on that? Much deserved? Or maybe not?
JC: I can’t say anything bad about crowning Eminem the King Of Hip Hop. I can’t say anything bad about them crowning Eminem the king of anything. It’s hard to argue that. It’s not like it’s not deserved. The man’s incredible and has been for years, so congrats to him.
Thanks for your time, and good luck with the album and tour. And stay away from the donuts!
JC: Alright, well I appreciate you.