J. Cole, the Roc Nation artist whose first album Cole World: The Sideline Story is due on September 27, wants to take his music beyond what he perceives to be the pervasive sentiment in hip-hop of late. “People are hurting in the world and we still rapping about super flashy things, which I’m not knocking it because I am not innocent in it at all. But it’s balance. I think the the world is about balance,” he told FrequencyTV. “I don’t think hip-hop for a while has been balanced…I don’t want to be the voice of the generation at all, but I definitely want to spark some type of change.”
He talks about when he realized his style had to evolve. “When I hit 15, something changed. I got this urge and this desire to actually say something. Even if I was just telling a story and just trying to give you a couple moral in the story, to me that felt better than just always rapping abut how much better I was than you. …I became more honest in my music because I’m telling my story, or if I’m not telling my story, I’m telling your story, or his story. It felt more real to me.
He also breaks down a few tracks on the album, calling “Breakdown,” “Lights Please” and “Lost Ones” the “heart and soul of the album.” He names Nas, Tupac and Eminem as influences, because he loves to tell stories like them. “I had no idea that I would fall in love with it to the point that it would get me here,” he says of rapping, and confides that his true dream was to be in the NBA. His fans are glad his flow was better off the court than on.
Watch the full interview here.