J. Cole's work with TLC is going to extend past their "Crooked Smile" collaboration. The North Carolina rapper is producing songs on the duo's upcoming album. Cole shared details about the project with Billboard.com during the iHeart Radio Music Festival Friday (Sept. 20).
Cole brought members Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas out to perform "Crooked Smile" for the first time live. "Finally we made that happened," he said. "We couldn't have picked a better place [than the iHeart Music Festival] to do it at. It's so huge, this was perfect for them to come out and do that song."
Adding the R&B icons to his sophomore album, Born Sinner, was a must. "I was such a fan of theirs growing up. I still am," Cole explained. "It's like when I made 'Crooked Smile,' I instantly thought of them because not only did I miss their voice, but they had these huge positive records, like 'Unpretty' and 'Waterfalls,' and I was just like 'Man, it makes too much sense. I gotta have them on a song like 'Crooked Smile.'"
If all goes according to plan, he'll return the favor with their new project. "Hopefully depending on how these songs turn out I got some production on the album that they're doing," he continued. "What we're really planning on doing is to really go in and lock in, because as a producer I know what I can give them. I know what I can bring them, and I know what they need. They don't need me, but I'll give them my best material."
Aside from building his production credits the 28-year-old is busy promoting Born Sinner and recently launched his nationwide What Dreams May Come Tour, inspired by the Robin Williams film about a man's journey through the afterlife. "Born Sinner was based on that movie conceptually, because if you listen to the album it's literally like…you['re] starting off in hell and trying to make it to heaven. The tour is the same way."
The tour wraps domestically Nov. 2 at an undisclosed location, which may or may not be New York City. "Contractually I can't announce anything," he said of why he hasn't etched out room for the Big Apple, but assured that a date is on the way. "There's certain places you just gotta go... New York is one of those ones we definitely gonna come see, I just can't announce anything for like a few weeks."
Cole begins the European leg of What Dreams May Come Nov. 24 in Paris.
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(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Clear Channel)