Jermaine Cole is better known as, "J. Cole" who was born on January 28th, 1985 in Germany due to his stepfather being enlisted in the army and then would move with his family (his mom and his brother) to the military base at Fayetteville, North Carolina. During his childhood, Jermaine would grow up in a house where his mom liked rock music and his stepdad was a fan of Gangsta Rap MC's such as, "Tupac". Besides from playing basketball, Cole would be taught how to rap by his cousin at the age of 12. His first rap flows were influenced by the southern sound of the legendary rapper, "Master P" until he would fall in love with artists that showcased more complex flows in artists such as, "Canibus", "Eminem" & "Nas". One of Jermaine's first mentor's on his come up was a local group in North Carolina called, "Bomb Shelter" that consisted of the MC's, "Filthe Rich" & "Nervous Reck". They would be the individuals to give Jermaine his first rap name in ,"The Therapist" in hopes that he could run with the mystique of being a doctor and selling his music as, "Therapy". In this MTV interview, Jermaine details how he would eventually drop that alias as he felt it didn't portray him appropriately and thus he adopted the rap name, "J.Cole". As he continued to fill up multiple rap books with rhymes, he eventually persuaded his mother into buying him ASR-X producer workstation at the age of 15 so that he could formulate his own musical landscapes.
In this XXL interview, J.Cole details how after he graduated high school in 2003 he would decide to go to college at St. John's University in New York in order to put him self in the best place to chase his dreams of becoming a legendary MC. He would graduate college with a high GPA as magna cum laude with a degree in Communications in 2007 and would instead work side jobs to support his financial obligations so that he could maximize his creative potential until he signed a record deal. In 2007, J.Cole released his first mixtape called, "The Come Up" that was well received but did not receive any significant recognition. It showcased a young and very talented raw MC in Cole with songs such as, "Throw It Up" & "Simba". In this interview, J.Cole details how he waited for hours in the pouring rain with his homie & manager Ibrahim Hamad (who is actually Bas' brother) to give Jay-Z a beat CD for Jay's new album (American Gangster) at the time in hopes that he would sign Cole on the spot. Unfortunately this did not happen but Cole soon realized his dreams would not come true so easily and so he continued to masterfully develop his craft.
In this same XXL interview, Cole details how his song, "Lights Please" is the magic song that eventually was passed around within the rap industry and eventually fell into Jay-Z's lap which led him to sign J.Cole to Roc Nation. Eager to make his mark within the rap game, Cole would deliver his second classic mixtape named, "The Warm Up" which features an improved MC & Producer in Cole that is spazzing over classic Hip-Hop instrumentals and over his own production as well (2009). The mixtape bolsters many standout tracks that illuminate Cole's unparalleled ability of storytelling on tracks such as, "I Get Up", "Dreams", "Hold It Down" & "Losing My Balance". The tape would be received as a home-run and would build a huge fanbase and healthy buzz for the Carolina bred MC who's dreams were finally starting to come true.
After his second mixtape, J.Cole began working on songs for his debut album but due to struggles in dealing with the pressure in creating a radio single and trying to stay relevant in an era that was buzzing with new talent he had to drop a third mixtape to remind everyone he was still working. Unfortunately, the songs he would include on his third classic mixtape, "Friday Night Lights" were all meant to be album songs. Thus, it would be a bittersweet experience when Cole released this tape for free in 2010 it would break the internet and be downloaded over a million times. The tape bolstered staple songs in Cole's career such as, "Before I'm Gone", "2Face", "In The Morning" & "Enchanted". Although Cole would not generate the type of financial revenue he could have if he sold the project, he instead generated something far more important. Cole would generate a loyal and connected fan base who were eager to hear his debut album whenever it dropped as his past two mixtape would put him on tour all over the world.
Determined to build his brand and to drop just enough music before his debut, Cole would release multiple EP's titled, "Any Given Sudnay" and also three singles, "Who Dat", "Work Out" & "Can't Get Enough" before finally releasing his debut album, "Cole World: The Sideline Story" (2011). The album would sell over 290,000 units in its first week and would be received very well by critics and his fan base respectively. It showcases Cole's come up and his rise to fame with the man who signed him in Jay-Z joining him on the song, "Mr. Nice Watch". It also features Cole's vulnerable side and his eagerness to show off his crazy flow on the songs, "Breakdown" & "Rise and Shine". In the midst of going through more personal trials and tribulations, Cole would go missing in action for two more years before releasing the song, "The Cure" that signified his return right before dropping his sophomore effort in, "Born Sinner" (2013). The album would be carried by the 4 leading singles in, "Power Trip", "Crooked Smile", "Forbidden Fruit" & "She Knows". The album would go on to be commercially successful and sell over 700,000 units to the date and a huge improvement from his debut release that would ultimately put him on his first solo album tour around the United States.
In January of 2014, J.Cole would announce he would bring his Dreamville collective into a deal with Interscope Records with label mates Bas & Omen at this time. On December 9th, 2014 J.Cole would release his best work to date in his career with his third platinum and grammy nominated album, "2014 Forest Hills Drive". Without any promotion or singles released, J.Cole would make his unannounced return to the rap game to showcase to the world how he finally came to take over the rap game with this gem. The standout tracks that act as singles are, "Apparently", "G.O.M.D.", "Wet Dreamz" & "No Role Modelz". It would become the first Hip-Hop album to go platinum without any features since 1989. The album bolstered a sincere and genuine message from a rap superstar that came from the bottom in that the only thing that matters in life is to be happy and that only comes from genuine love. This album would catapult him into superstardom as he was able to sell out his first solo tour all over the country and would release a live version of his album on both digital and vinyl platforms.
J.Cole & his Dreamville collective is only growing stronger and they are looking to take the rap game by storm this year! Check out this link that contains some of J.Cole's best freestyles and unreleased material as well! Be on the lookout for more at all times!