It's been five years since J. Cole dropped the tape that earned him his Roc Nation chaining day, and to celebrate his success since, he penned a thoughtful and thought-provoking letter to the listeners.
June 15, 2009, "we started a journey together," he wrote of The Warm Up, his second mixtape, while on a plane from Sydney, Australia, to New York City. "I released The Warm Up to a few who were waiting patiently for it. Full of my dreams, fears and predictions, it resonated with you right away. Over the next year I watched it grow legs and spread at an unbelievable pace because you felt it so much. ... I couldn't be more proud of it's impact. Thank You."
Soon after it's release, Cole won the Underground Music Award for Male Artist of the Year and MTV's Sucker Free Summit. One of the tape's tracks, "Lights Please," made it's way to Jay Z (just before the release) and was the catalyst for his signing to Roc Nation, the first of Hov's signees. Most of the mixtape was produced by Cole himself.
"The Warm Up is a declaration of dedication to Greatness," he continued. "Told from the perspective of a kid who wants more.... You heard the passion, you heard the stories, and you believed in him too. You rooted for him. And you're still rooting. ... I understand now that you're rooting for him because you're also rooting for yourself."
Cole goes on to mention some of the encouragement he's received, like "you're the reason I went to college" and "yo, The Warm Up got me through some hard times," and he wonders what the listeners are up to today. "I'm hoping that you've found a career doing s--t that you love," he wrote, wrapping it up with a bit of continued encouragement of his own: "Read these words as if they are your own, because they are. ... I believe in myself. And to all those who doubt me I say, 'F--k that. I will be Greater. Watch me.'"
Cole relaunches his Dollar & A Dream tour next month, kicking off July 3, and will perform The Warm Up in its entirety.
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(Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Free The Children)