With tracks like "Let Nas Down" and "Crooked Smile," J. Cole's Born Sinner album features a collection of personal records, one of which came out of his own "jealousy," which he shared in a Hardknock TV interview. The track in question, "Rich N----z," was born from the Roc Nation rapper's frustration with growing up far from wealthy in Fayetteville, N.C.
Since he's now a multi-millionaire, Cole has become the very subject he rhymes about hating, but in penning the track he pulled from the past, he said. "When I start writing, I don't always know where it's headed," he explained. "Maybe [not] until midway through the first verse or something … so the first thing I write is, 'I hate Rich N----z.'"
He progressed from there, delving deeper into his envious feelings. "I used to have such a problem with people with money," Cole said. "It was almost a bitterness and a jealousy 'cuz my mom gotta work so hard, you know what I mean?"
Watching his single mother hold down two jobs, delivering both mail and pizzas, only added to his anger towards the upper class. Feelings of which spilled over into the music. "It was like a real feeling for me, which is kinda weird because there's people that I used to live around but now that we moved to a better neighborhood they lookin' at me like 'Yo n----, ya'll got two cars and you got your own bedroom now!' So to them they looking at me like I'm rich, and I'm looking to these people like man [they] rich.
"But it's ironic because now I have money. I'm at that level now. I'm one of them. My kids are gonna be one of them, so it's that battle."
Conflicting statements and seemingly hypocritical flows were intentional, Cole asserted, stating that the "whole song" took the "approach of ironies." The theme gets even more critical in verse two, where he critiques the rap game's lyrical obsessions with materialism, simultaneously revealing his own fear of falling victim to the same mindset.
Towards the end of his explanation, Cole summed up the record as being a fusion of different components. "That song's just a bunch of contrasting thoughts with crazy flows," he said.
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