Logic Reveals He Would Not Be A Rapper If It Weren’t For J. Cole (Video)
Logic’s Everybody is currently the #1 album in the country. This achievement by the Maryland MC puts him in an elite class of artists. Symbolically, “Young Sinatra” joins 2010s Rap peers such as Kendrick Lamar, Drake, A$AP Rocky, Big Sean, ScHoolboy Q, Future, Travi$ Scott, Meek Mill, Mac Miller, and Nicki Minaj. By his third album, Logic has clearly arrived in the eyes of the charts and critics. However, another artist also in that class afforded Bobby Hall II a true feeling of acceptance.
While he was never marketed as a guest on Everybody, J. Cole appears on the secret track “Acceptance.” Speaking with Hard Knock TV, Logic addresses his deep admiration for Cole (the only concert he says he ever attended as a fan). In an era when the significance of collaborations may seem cheaper than ever, Logic proves otherwise in a heartfelt account of advice, brotherhood, and artistic expression.
At the top of the intimate discussion, Logic admits that part of his early Rap style was derived from Cole, who is five years older. “When I first came up, I was totally trying to be all these different rappers, in the sense of learning their style. The biggest one was J. Cole. [I] love J. Cole…obsessed over him. J. Cole was in the ‘Simba’ video in jeans and a white t-shirt; I’m in the ‘Backpack’ video in jeans and a white t-shirt, walkin’ down [similar] alleyways and shit.” A quick glance at both visuals shows just how deep the emulation went.
Logic, now the one budding rappers copy, explains, “They say…the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. It’s a real thing. [I was] a young kid learning who he is, learning himself… [now] when I see these youngin’s comin’ up doing the Logic flows, and all this other shit, I’m just like [shrugs] ‘Yeah! F*ck yeah! Like, dope. Can’t nobody do it like me…’ But that’s a real thing. Can’t nobody be Cole. Can’t nobody be Kanye [West]. Can’t nobody be Kendrick [Lamar]. You’re just you. You can be inspired. You can obviously take different things from other people, like we all have as artists and musicians. But at the end of the day, you’re you. That’s why I’m so happy that on [Everybody] really more than anywhere, I’ve found myself. I’ve said that on the last album, and I’ll probably say it on the next. It’s just every step that you take you’re leaving your own footprints. You kind of veer off from those shoes and footprints that you were trying to fill. You find yourself.”
Speaking specifically about J. Cole, Logic travels back more than four years ago to his first encounter with his Rap idol. “The first time I ever met J. Cole was at No I.D.’s house at his birthday party. That was the first time I came to L.A.; it was incredible. This was like short-hair Cole; it was a minute [ago],” he says. No I.D., a Def Jam executive has mentored Logic, in addition to producing extensively for Cole. At the California party, Logic asked his A&R representative for an introduction to the Roc Nation double-threat. The Maryland artist remembers his exact words: “That’s my f*ckin’ hero! That’s my idol.” Upon the intro, Logic recounts his first words to his hero, “My name’s Logic, and I just signed to Def Jam!” While Logic assertively let Cole know he was more than a fan, the elder artist was not put off. “He was so nice; he was the nicest.” The following day, while recording at No I.D.’s space, Cole walked into a Logic session looking for the exec, who was not there. Instead, the pair bonded and realized each had a concept themed around an unofficial third part on Jay Z’s “Dead Presidents” series.
From that day, Logic says there was a friendship, but an “arms length kinda thing.” He says he understands the importance of that as his career has grown. The two would share a meaningful hotel lobby lunch, at Cole’s invitation, during a 2015’s Soundset concert in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
That brings things to 2017. “Fast forward to a few months ago, to before the album was finished. I work on ‘Take It Back,’ and I say, ‘Hey man, I have a song for you that I think you could kill.’ In my mind…I’m really glad he didn’t rap on it, actually, now thinking about it. And it just goes to show how wise he is. I thought that the could give me his perspective, as a [fellow] biracial person, on the same record. He heard it…and I agree with him, especially now…and he goes, ‘That’s your story. When I listen to that song, that is your story. And it’s story I didn’t know. All the sh*t that you’re saying on that record is crazy and f*cked up! The way you’re talking about your mom and your dad…’ He wasn’t judging me. ‘It was just real, so raw, and honest.'” J. Cole’s polite pass expanded. “And we had a conversation…and I won’t get too much into the conversation, because that’s a very personal, great thing for just me. But the conversation was about acceptance and about accepting yourself. ‘You don’t need other people to accept you.’ We as artists think, ‘I’m gonna write this thing, and make them love me!’ But [how] are you gonna make anybody else love you? What the f*ck is that about?”
At the time, Logic says he bluntly asked for the feature. Recalling Cole’s discussion, he says, “‘I was very inspired by the track that you sent me and our conversation on the phone, and I wrote this thing, I’m gonna lay it.'” Upon an update, Cole told Logic “‘It just didn’t sound right’,” of the track. Although disappointed, Logic says, “I let it go. He had a lot goin’ on, and I didn’t want to bug him.”
When they communicated from then on, the Maryland MC never mentioned the track to the North Carolina artist. “I didn’t talk about it anymore. I just hit him to be like, ‘How are you doin’? What’s up?'” Logic says that’s when he got a strange development. “It was like a week ago, from this point, I was in Florida doing a festival. And he texts me at four o’clock in the morning—which is really funny, ’cause you can tell he’s an artist…artists be up late doin’ sh*t. He sends me a voice memo of what he wrote. He goes, ‘I want you to know I wasn’t bullsh*ttin’ you. I really did [record] this. Here’s what I did that night. Just so you know.'” Logic says the song was attached, in voice memo. “I listened to it, and I [was] so emotional [that] I almost cried,” he reflects. “I listened to it for almost two days. I [replied by text], ‘Thank you, this is so beautiful’ and just leave it at that.”
Logic says that over the next few days, he got to thinking. “This is perfect. This is him rapping a voicemail with the beat in the background, and it’s a letter to me. J. Cole wrote me a letter! But it’s not really J. Cole [to] Logic, it’s Jermaine [to] Bobby, like for real!” On a whim, he called Cole. The call went missed, which Logic deduced as a sign. Two hours later, the 4 Your Eyez Only creator called back. It was there Logic made his pitch: “‘I got somethin’ I want to say to you, and I just want to say it. And I respect you as a man and a musician, and whatever you say, that’s fine. But if I don’t say this, I’m gonna live with regret.’ He was like, ‘Damn…oh sh*t.’…”I tell him, ‘You’re the reason why I’m here. You’re the guy saying all the things and doing all the things that, when I was a teenager, I wanted to do. When The Come Up came out, [I was] 19 years old, The Warm Up, and all this other shit…I don’t know if you realize this, man, but you were rapping to me [on] ‘Simba,’ ‘Grown Simba,’: go out there and get it. Follow your dreams. Be who you are. Go and do it.’ Bro, I was a teenager and you were telling me to go out and do it. I am the product of the kid you were telling to go be a Rap star. Whatever he wanted to be, I did it.’ He was just like, ‘Bruh.’” [Logic continued], ‘It is beautiful, it is poetic, it’s just what I needed as a man. And I’m gonna be honest…you can say ‘no’ of course, no problem. But I believe that this is perfect, just like this, not on the record, not me and you. This ain’t about the public. This isn’t about trying to milk it and do all this other sh*t. I’m not gonna [market this].” Logic told his idol a visionary plan: “I’m gonna make it a secret, ’cause this is about us.’…He goes, ‘Well, what I’ma say? No? After a speech like that, what the f*ck am I gonna say, no? I see how much this means to you and for you…of course.'” Logic signifies the song, “This is my idol accepting me,” this prompting its official title: “Acceptance.”
On his part, Cole has made a conceptual song about his own idol: Nas. 2013’s “Let Nas Down” was a reflective look at Cole’s artistic direction, in the eyes of his top influence. Additionally, Cole’s mainstream introduction, 2009’s “A Star Is Born” by Jay Z, signified a knighting of sorts that Jermaine would be next, according to his label boss and mentor.