In just a few days, J. Cole‘s Born Sinner will go head-to-head with Kanye West‘s Yeezus, and last week we chatted with Cole in the studio to see what his mindset was heading into the June 18 face-off. And ya know what? He’s a lot calmer and cooler (and more personable) than we’d be ahead of such a momentous occasion! Cole gave us plenty of insight into the new album — everything from his decision to move the release date up (“I’m way too excited for this album to have it drop a week after Kanye’s, and live in the shadow of that”) to his outsider status. “I don’t feel pressure to conform to what’s happening, I feel pressure to bring my style to the mainstream as best as possible,” he said. “I’m grateful that I made a song like ‘Power Trip’ or that I figured out ‘Crooked Smile’ to get the other side of my style to the world, to let the world know I’m doing a different brand of hip-hop.”
Cole also told us about Born Sinner‘s heaven/hell theme, how the TLC collaboration came about and whether he expected ”Power Trip” to be a contender for Song of the Summer. Check out the interview up top, and be sure to go stream the album if you haven’t yet.