J. Cole talks Born Sinner, marriage and acting [Interview]
Toronto, ON – J. Cole stopped in Toronto during his What Dreams May Come Tour last week for 2 dates; October 8 and 9. And with him he brought Bas, who is also a member of Dreamville, Vic Mensa and Wale. Before the first show, HipHopCanada had a chance to chat with the rapper where we discussed a couple of things regarding his sophomore album, Born Sinner, relationships and marriage and also him getting into acting. He also let us in on something special coming up for his Canadian fans in the new year.
Check out the full interview after the jump.
J. Cole: Q&A
Written by Natasha Paolini for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: Congratulations on your new album, it’s amazing!
J. Cole: Thank you very much, I appreciate that.
HipHopCanada: A few days after your album dropped you tweeted “First week projections are fucking up hip-hop.” Can you elaborate on what you were talking about there?
J. Cole: Yeah, it’s like, as soon as the album comes out there’s so much pressure, and it’s like a headline, it’s a headline of what is the album going to sell? And they’re never right [Laughs], and second, it’s taking away from what is actually important, which is, is the album even fucking good? How is the album? It’s almost like that’s more important; that the sales validate the credibility or the quality of the album, which they don’t. And not to mention before my album was even sold, they projected it was going to sell 150,000 and it sold 300,000. So, I’ll tell you right now they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about. So, I just feel like people are paying attention to the wrong shit.
HipHopCanada: Yeah, for sure. What would say are the main differences between this album and Cole World?
J. Cole: This (Born Sinner) is a project that tells you where I was at for the year and a half that it took to make it. There are no old songs on it. As opposed to Cole World what I was trying to do was, I was trying to hold onto these songs that were classics, that I had for awhile, like “Lost Ones,” “Break Down,” “Lights Please” is on there and then “In The Morning” is on there too, which that was from the pressure of Jay-Z, he wanted me to put that song on there, which I’m glad I did. So there was a mixture of really old songs, some that hadn’t even been out, and really new songs that I was experimenting with. One of those was “Nobody’s Perfect” which was the last song I did before I turned in the album and another one was “Mr. Nice Watch.” So, it was super extremes. The time periods when those songs were made and the person who made those songs were extremely different, as opposed to Born Sinner which was pretty much the best of where I was at for that year and half period. It was more flowing, and that’s why it sounds like an album and more connected.
HipHopCanada: Yeah, I get it, like an accumulation of what happened over that one year.
J. Cole: Right, exactly. As opposed to piecing together a puzzle.
HipHopCanada: How did it feel when Nas remixed “Let Nas Down?”
J. Cole: That was amazing, man. That was pretty surreal. It still is, really. I have a hard time appreciating things when they happen and realizing how big they are. But that was one of the ones where I kind of knew “this is fucking huge.” I couldn’t even really escape how big that moment was. That was just big for hip-hop too, I think, just because we’re in a day in age where the best rappers of today, the people we look up to were so good and so relevant for so long that even my biggest fans respect Nas and love Nas. That didn’t happen back in the day, it wasn’t like that, now because we give it up to them so much, and they’re still good those things make them still relevant. It was just a big moment for hip-hop.
HipHopCanada: He passed the torch essentially.
J. Cole: Yeah, exactly, he definitely passed the crown on that record.
HipHopCanada: In your music you touch on a lot of different things, and one of them is relationships and love. How do you feel about marriage?
J. Cole: I feel like relationships are a beautiful thing, period. Relationships can be really beautiful, they can be really hard, they can be really rewarding, or they can be bad relationships where it’s really detrimental and hurtful, but that’s life, period. But then marriage, marriage is just a relationship to me. In my experience, when you’ve been in a relationship for as long as I’ve been in one, there’s no real difference. It’s just a piece of paper that validates what was already real. I got a homeboy that just got married last week, and I guarantee other than the high that they felt on that day, I’m gonna ask him, I can’t wait until he comes back from his honeymoon so I can ask him, but my gut feeling is going to tell me that there is going to be no difference. They lived together already, they had a kid already, there’s no real difference. In marriage you got to go through the same struggles as a relationship, that’s if the relationship is real, because there’s a lot of non-real relationships going on in the world right now. And I think that’s just because of the day and age we’re in, a lot of these relationships are taking place over text messages, it’s not real substance. But when you got a real one, it’s already like a marriage.
HipHopCanada: Oh, for sure. Do you have a favourite love song?
J. Cole: Oh, man. I got a ton of favourite long songs. You’re going to have to give me a day to answer so I can write them all down. The Faith Evans joint just popped into my head, [starts singing] “I loooove you…” I love that shit. I love India Arie “Ready for Love,” I love Donell Jones “Where I Wanna Be.” I love… man I could talk for hours about my favourite old R&B love songs.
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] So, I’ve been hearing that you’re getting into acting.
J. Cole: How recent was that? Where was that headline?
HipHopCanada: I heard you were supposed to be in the movie called “Baggage Claim” with Jill Scott.
J. Cole: Oh, yeah, I talked to the Director and that was supposed to happen. That part that Trey Songz’ is playing, they wanted me to play that, but I felt like that wasn’t really me. And not that acting has to be you, but for my first role, ever, I wasn’t sure.
HipHopCanada: So, then, you want to get into acting?
J. Cole: Yeah, I would love to. I would love to see if I’m any good first and foremost, and then go from there. If I’m not any good or I don’t love it, I wouldn’t do it. My Mother’s an actress, and she’s always told me, “Boy, you’re an actor.” I would look forward to seeing if I’m any good. I want to be good at it, that’s the only thing.
HipHopCanada: You were pretty good in “Crooked Smile.”
J. Cole: Thank you, man. I was trying whatever I could [Laughing]. I was trying!
HipHopCanada: Nah, that was good. That made me cry a lot to be honest with you. Finally, do you have any last words for your Canadian fans?
J. Cole: Ey, I appreciate ’em. Oh, this is the important part – We’re doing a Canadian Tour. Even when we did the routing for this tour I was mad that we weren’t going to like Vancouver, and Montreal, and even Edmonton and all those other places. But just know we’re coming back to Canada in January for the Canadian run.
HipHopCanada: Dope. Alright man, I’ll let you go. Thank you!
J. Cole: Well, I appreciate it, thank you.
Special thanks to Julia Scenna and Sony Music!
Written by Natasha Paolini for HipHopCanada
Show photography by Stolen From Africa for HipHopCanada
Twitter: @JColeNC | @Sony_Music