J. Cole made his TV debut way before signing to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label.
Back in 2006, while still attending St. John's University, Hollywood Cole's hunger to sell beats to Hov led him to crash the God MC's 40/40 Club where MTV was filming an episode of "Super Sweet 16" with Aaron Reid, the son of Island Def Jam Music Group Chairman, L.A. Reid. [Watch video here]
"This is when I first found out like how TV really works, because you know, just watching TV you think 'Sweet 16,' all the people in the party know who they are," Cole told BET.com. "There was this girl at my school who interned at the label [Def Jam] and she was like, 'Hey, y’all wanna come to 40/40 tonight, there’s like a Sweet 16.' I’m like, 'Sweet 16? I ain’t going to no Sweet 16.' She was like, 'All right, I heard Kanye gon' be there, Swizz Beatz.' You know, she named all these people, and I was like 40/40, Jay might be there. I was already trying to get a deal, so I was like, all right let’s go."
"I just kinda threw on my button-up," he continued. "I had a shirt underneath my button-up that said, 'Produce for Jay-Z or die trying.' I had my beat CD in my pocket."
While Cole failed to slip Jigga his beat CD, he did manage to hand it to a few industry insiders.
"I gave my CD to somebody, I don't even remember who they were," Cole recalled. "I gave one to Plain Pat, that's Kanye's A&R and then some dude who was Just Blaze's brother, I gave [one] to him. I was giving my beat CD to whoever 'cause once I took off my button-up everyone saw my shirt and what it said. And then Jay ended up walking right past me, but I didn't see him until it was too late.
"I'm telling you, it was a crazy night," he added. "Kanye was there, Swizz Beatz was to my left. It was like an unsigned artist’s dream, but ain’t nothing really happened from it, but at least I got some motivation from it."