“I’d rather be happy trying to please myself than sad trying to please everyone else.” North Carolina native Jermaine Lamarr Cole made his first appearance into the limelight in the 2010 BET Awards Show as the RocNation prodigy.With his style that mixes gangsta,neo soul and funk is often described as “authentic and home grown” it’s easy to understand the self proclamation of “the realest rapper alive” and his constant association with another authentic and unique rapper,Kendrick Lamar. Cole’s rise to fame alone was indicative of home grown as his journey to fame began with the hip hop fairytale of getting his mixtape in the right rapper’s hands. Cole camped out in front of a studio waiting for Jay Z to give him his album. It wasn’t the success of this moment that started Cole’s journey because he recalls Jay Z saying “I don’t want that, give it to one of them” ,however it would be the cold rejection of Jay Z that would prompt the determination of J Cole. Cole continued to perfect his craft and create content and would find himself a year later being requested by Jay Z to work on his album the Blueprint 3 and signing to Jay Z’s RocNation months later.
J Cole’s discography alone serves as testaments to his authenticity as each reveals a true story of some sort or emotion/conceptualization of events in both the present and past state of the world, very much true to the authentic aspect of hip hop’s duty to provide social commentary of the times. With songs like “Love Yourz”,“Crooked Smile”,”Let Nas Down”, and “1985(the Intro to the “Fall Off”), Cole illustrates his ability to morph back and forth between mentee and mentor and leave listeners with think pieces on not only social issues but also personal struggles as black people in America and young artists in the industry. It’s the relatableness of Cole that fuels his fandom and he attests to the importance of his fans often going as far as conducting the 2015 “Dollar and a Dream” tour allowing fans to hear his latest and greatest hits live for only $1.
Cole has always made it a goal to stay true to himself even if it meant sacrificing popularity in the media as most artists do.To ensure he was able to uphold this promise to himself Cole created his on record label entitled Dreamville ultimately giving himself and later on artists like Baas and Ari Lennox outlets to produce contently freely. This would ultimately aid him in becoming the first hip hop artist in 25 years to have an album with no features go platinum.Although Cole has not made much noise on the music scene the works thar he has offered thus far are still very much relevant in social and musical discussion.