J. Cole Uncensored: Why He’s Not Following "Their" Rules

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In Sway’s highly anticipated interview with J. Cole, this NC rapper opens up about all things music, Dreamville and breaks down his current mind state.

Catching up with him in his dressing room after his Forest Hills Drive show in San Diego, CA, he talks about fellow tour mates, Big Sean and YG — and why it was important to have these two rappers on board (credit goodsky). In fact, YG was the first to tell us that Cole fought for him to stay on the tour after the “powers-that-be” attempted to kick him off.

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Cole tells us his side of the story at the (1:20) mark.

“I seen the way he moves, and just in my interactions with him, he’s not stupid. So, I had to break it down to him, people are expecting him to fail so every decision you and your homeboys make, make it true or false.”

What about Big Sean?

“Big Sean is on fire. Me and Big Sean came in the game together. We opened up a show for Wale in 2009, so we started this climb together. To see what he’s done and came through… and his catalog of hits. When he’s out there doing his show, I can hear it in my bus. 40 minutes of hits.”

Along with being an undeniable rapper, J. Cole is a CEO of Dreamville. During his sit-down with Sway, he talks about each of his signed artists, Omen, Bas and Cozz — and why he decided to sign them, what caught his attention and what made them different.

It’s no secret that his 2014 Forest Hills Drive album had no features. In fact, it was the first hip-hop album to go platinum without a single guest feature since 1989! Cole told us that was an accident. He didn’t mean to exclude the project from any features — it just came out that way.

Cole speaks some solid gems around the 8-minute mark when he begins to talk about the importance of his art, and why he doesn’t follow the standard industry way of becoming successful.

“You don’t have to have the features. You don’t have to drop the single. You don’t have to have the radio record before you put the album out. You don’t have to follow them rules. You can put out what you love and still sell records if you connecting with people. It ain’t gonna be over night. You do art first and build the business around that.”

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  • Kimmee Reynolds

    This man is BRILLIANT! I have been a huge fan for years. Going to see him for a 3rd time in his hometown and I can not wait!

  • seandonjuan24

    Man if it wasn’t for cole I dont think I would even listen to hip hop anymore. Dude speaks truth and produces a lot of his own stuff. No features and still go plat! People need to wake up this is “real” rap

  • hiphopastrology

    Sway classic interview. Sway’s UNIVERSE, here is the Universal Zodiac Science behind J.Cole https://youtu.be/5PlZ-HycaWQ