Facts: noun. plural noun: facts: the truth about events as opposed to an interpretation.
It’s not often we can surprise fans with facts about their favourite artist, especially rappers – as they tend to get drastically real with the lyrics they publicly share. So let’s see what you don’t know about 36 year-old Jermaine Lamarr Cole, one of the most influential rappers of substance in our generation – as we unearth 8 hidden truths from the telling depths of the internet.
8. A tough rejection from Jay.Z
Imagine being rejected by one of your biggest heroes… gnarly feelings tend to circulate in the stomach at the thought, which is likely what J. Cole experienced upon meeting Jay-Z for the first time in 2006. J. Cole rocked up as plus-one to a party, wearing a shirt that read ‘Produce for Jay-Z or Die Tryin’. Jay-Z walked right past him, not noticing him or his shirt.
Later on, at age 17, Cole stood outside Jay-Z’s studio with a ready-made CD for a few good hours in the pouring rain, waiting for a chance to steal Jay-Z away and give him his work. When Jay-Z finally came out, he gave Cole an abrupt cold shoulder. “I don’t want this” and gave poor J. Cole the tape back. Years later, he got signed to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation.
7. In 2013, J. Cole did a tour for $1 admission
Tickets were sold at small concert halls on a first come first-serve basis. Each venue location remained undisclosed until Cole released a sneaky tweet just a few short hours before each show began. He wanted fans to understand that you can accomplish your dreams, even if you were down to your last dollar. Making no immediate money off the tour, J. Cole gained life-long results, obtaining incredible fans that have been notoriously loyal throughout the length of his music career.
6. He used to rock the violin
Our successful rapper indeed took up the Violin in the 5th grade, playing right through to the 12th grade, and became the ‘first chair violinist’ at Terry Sandford Orchestra. He’s exclaimed he could play both the ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Batman’ theme songs. Now this is something we need to see, let’s hope he does a violin-solo feature before he sets out to retire.
Sounds like Cole has always had musical bones in his body, beginning writing songs at just age 15. He began creating his own beats with an 808-beat machine, a gift from his mum.
5. His diploma got delayed because of an overdue library book
Not kidding team. We know J. Cole attended St. John’s University Queens Campus (also where he met his wife, Melissa) on an academic scholarship. He graduated in 2007 with an impressive 3.8 GPA and a recognition of honors in communication and business. But perhaps what you may not have known, is that he didn’t receive his actual diploma until late 2015, a whole 8 years later – admitting it was because he owed money on an overdue library book.
“If you have any outstanding fees, that translates to money. There’s a price associated with it. I never paid. That’s why I didn’t have my degree.”
4. He purposely aligned an album release to go head-to-head with Yeezy.
Born Sinner got proactively pushed forward from June 26 to be released June 18, 2013, the exact same launch date as Yeezus – Kanye West’s album. What a monstrous day for the hip-hop industry. Born Sinner successfully outsold Yeezus and continued on to hit number one on the 2013 Billboard charts in its third week of life. Cole explained “it was more about the statement” than the sales.
3. In his early days, Cole got paid to skate in a Kangaroo costume.
Most of us have had marginally depressing first jobs we want to bury under the history books. It’s comforting to know J. Cole experienced similar trauma, working a gig at an ice-skating rink that demanded he rock a full kangaroo costume. I’ll freely admit my experience was similar to Cole’s. My old man owned a local butcher shop, and my very first role involved dressing up in a wickedly embarrassing cow suit – waving a ‘beef on special’ sign as I awkwardly stood by the roundabout.
2. He used to go by the name ‘Blaza’, and then it was ‘Therapist’
Nearly spat my damn water out discovering this one. My-oh-my would J. Cole have a different kind of rap if he called himself ‘Blaza’. I don’t mind ‘Therapist’ so much, as he’s naturally sort of acted as one to his loyal listeners over the length of his career. He graduated of sorts from ‘Therapist’ to ‘J. Cole’ when he decided ‘Therapist’ sounded like a professional wrestler. He later changed his rap identity officially to ‘J. Cole’, inspired by a childhood nickname from his school friends.
1. He received a life intervention from his friends
In the accompanying documentary to his recent album release The Off-Season, Cole tells us of the intervention he received at a party by his friends as they questioned him about what the hell, he was doing with his rap career. This was a massive turning point for J. Cole and gave him the fire he needed to start hustling for that long-term goal. He set himself daily drills, writing a bunch of lyrics every single morning in order to improve his creative flow. He called the album The Off-Season in light of this catalysing event, as he realised you’ve got to put in the work – in the season, and off, to get the result. That he did.