J. Cole will attend his first Grammys as a nominee this weekend, and the emerging rap star spoke to the Associated Press about his current mind state, staying hungry and the whirlwind year that brought him to such an enviable position.
"I feel blessed, of course, first and foremost. But I'm already back to work. I'm already on to the next one," Cole said, explaining that he is by no means getting comfortable. "I feel grateful for everything that happened, but I'm not satisfied."
For Cole, the accolades he's received over the past year have provided motivation to achieve even greater things.
"There's still accomplishments that keep happening from the work I put in last year and the last two, three years — the single goes platinum, album goes gold, Grammy nominations...but those are just reminders of the work that I did. That's in the past. I'm already like, 'What's the next move?'"
Cole also revealed that even before his album was completed, he already had music's biggest night on his mind. He admits to pushing everyone on his team to make sure the project was released before the Grammy nominations deadline.
"I was telling my management and telling my label 'Yo, I gotta beat the Grammy deadline. I gotta do it,'" Cole said. "If you look at the date, my album came out like two days before the deadline. And that's because I knew. I was like 'I gotta shot.' I thought my album was that good. I thought 'Maybe.'"
Even still, when the time came for nominees to be announced, Cole had managed to talk himself out of any sense of entitlement or expectation.
"I really, truly had already given up. I was like, 'Nah.' It didn't feel right. I didn't think they saw. I didn't think anybody would notice, or whatever. But they did."
Cole said it was an honor to be nominated in the Best New Artist category, where he is joined by fellow rap sensation Nicki Minaj as well as indie/folk favorite Bon Iver, the electronic producer Skrillex and country trio the Band Perry.
"To have two hip hop artists on that list says a lot about where hip hop is right now," he said.
Follow Cole's fortunes when the 54th Annual Grammy Awards air this Sunday, February 12 at 8:00 PM ET on CBS.
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