J. Cole & Lil Pump End Childish Beef With A Grown Man Conversation (Video)
Five weeks ago, J. Cole released KOD. The now gold-certified #1 album featured Cole responding to his critics. Those critics were not journalists or fans, but rather, peers. Lil Pump and Smokepurrp, two Miami, Florida-based Rap artists had condemned Cole for some time on social media and in songs, most notably their collaboration, “F*ck J. Cole.”
On KOD, Cole responded. Not mentioning any artist by name, the Dreamville founder rallied on “1985 – ‘Intro The Falloff.'” The song was not a diss in the vain of famed tracks by Ice Cube, Tupac, or the currently-topical Pusha-T vs. Drake and Lil Wayne conflict. Instead, Cole responded to Pump and the like with pointers. He urged the artists to save their money, be mindful of the stereotypes they portray in light of why the mainstream may be drawn to them. Pump, who claims he never listened to the song until weeks after it released, clowned Cole for rapping to a 17-year-old.
At Miami’s Rolling Loud Festival this month, both artists were on the bill. J. Cole recently told Angie Martinez while in the 305 that he hoped to meet Pump. Even before KOD, the MC/producer said that while staying in Los Angeles, California he went looking for the youth movement that appears to have such a problem with Cole’s music and messaging, only to discover it was all in the name of trolling. At Rolling Loud, J. Cole did meet. The two artists spoke for several minutes. However, Cole invited him to have a bigger discussion in the next week. Today, the public can see what happens when two artists apparently at odds really sit down, and talk things out.
At J. Cole’s Sheltuh Studios in North Carolina (the same place where the police raid that inspired “Neighbors” took place), the two artists sit on the same couch for an hour-long discussion. They begin with a handshake and formal introduction. Over Cole’s shoulder is an iconic photo of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls years before the beef that began in November 1995. Those two MCs never lived long enough to have a thoughtful sit-down. While Cole and Pump’s exchanges in lyrics are quite different in that there have never been any physical threats or claims of being intimate with one another’s spouses, it still has been one of 2018’s highest-profile beefs—before vastly different audiences.
In their conversation, the two men discuss how Rap is currently a battle between segmented audiences (35:00). Cole offers some of the same advice found in “1985” regarding financial planning (53:00) and artistic responsibility (29:00). However, he gives it gently, almost like an uncle.
Cole admits that the video, released through his channel, may put Pump before an audience that is upset by the conversations, and another grouping of fans that is entirely unaware of the “Gucci Gang” maker. Then Cole begins with a compliment. “When I first saw your videos, I [was] buying into the image. Like, ‘Yo, this lil’ ni**a’s crazy. He don’t give a f*ck.’ But when I started watching more of the videos, I was like, ‘Yo, this kid is smart…he knows more than what people might think he does or that his image portrays.'” Cole recalls a phone chat, then a meeting at Rolling Loud where the elder rapper was awakened to the intelligence of the 17-year-old who had been dissing him for more than a year. “He’s 17, and he’s smart, I just felt like I was talkin’ to somebody I already knew. I appreciated that [conversation]. It was like 15 minutes, but I felt like it was good. During the conversation, it was just so natural. That’s when I got the idea that we should just do this: exactly what we’re doing right now, on camera.” Pump agreed to the public chat.
The two artists talk about their families. Pump reveals that he is the son of Colombian immigrants (11:00). His mother is deeply involved in his career today, despite having problems with her son’s discipline issues the last five years. Like Cole, Pump admits having troubles at home with his mother’s former spouse (20:00). On KOD, Jermaine explains wanting to kill the person he refers to as “kiLL edward,” an alter-ego based on the man that lived with him during adolescence. Pump recalls threatening his mom’s boyfriend by drawing a gun on him.
At 21:30, Cole asks if the turmoil at home prompted Pump to be more inclined to experiment with cigarettes and later, drugs. “I just started doin’ it ’cause I was like ‘f*ck it,'” Pump responds. One of KOD‘s meanings is Kids On Drugs. At 17, Pump has certainly been that. He later admits that he has stopped consuming Xanax and Red Bull (27:00). Cole adds, “This is not me judging. But I feel like if I would’ve had a more stable home…if the household was more stable, I would’ve been less susceptible to get into the sh*t that I got into. The same thing goes for my brother. It’s not like I got in some deep sh*t, but I felt like I was more susceptible to try sh*t as opposed to somebody that’s coming from a two-parent household, stable, no problems in the house, no abusive situation. I might be making connections that don’t exist. But my thought is like…Damn. Put it like this: if my son’s smokin’ weed in the sixth grade in the bathroom, I’m feelin’ like [there is a problem]. We gotta talk. You’re going in the wrong in the direction.” Cole throws out the idea that he hopes to raise a son strong enough to pass on the peer pressure to smoke cigarettes or marijuana at such a young age. Pump, admitting he hopes to become a father in the future, agrees.
At 27:00, Cole asks Pump about his image. The Miami rapper explains how friends of his have died from the same drugs that inspired KOD (another meaning behind the album is King Overdose). Pump says that he does not care if his audience is unaware of his sensitive or intelligent sides. “A lot of people think I’m stupid, but I ain’t stupid. I know what I’m doing.” Cole asks a question. “If you’re smarter than the average bear—you know what you’re doing, my concern is that [kids] look up to you.” Cole states that only some of those kids realize that Pump is “trolling, in a sense.” “I also think there’s kids that f*ck with you that are more vulnerable. They come from households—maybe like yours—[or] that are even more f*cked up than yours. They need guidance in a sense. I’m not sayin’ you’re supposed to be the one to guide anybody. You’re 17. But I do wonder like, damn, do you ever think about the fact that, ‘there’s kids that f*ck with me, and just by me promoting this sh*t [from my one side] that that sh*t is affecting them in the wrong way?'” Pump responds, “Nah, not really. I stopped doing all that bullsh*t, like a couple months ago. All that Xan’ies and Red Bull sh*t, I don’t be f*ckin’ with none of that sh*t. I put all that sh*t to the side.”
Near the 33:00 mark, they discuss the “F*ck J. Cole” campaign. Pump admits that it existed before he and Smokepurrp popularized it. They joined without understanding why people were against Cole. “I don’t know, bro. People just like doin’ that sh*t.” They jumped in for attention, something Cole told Angie that he hypothesized. Pump says that the new target of the generation is Atlanta, Georgia rapper/singer Russ Vitale. Of Cole’s music, Pump says at 34:10, “I f*ck with your sh*t, sh*t’s hard. For real, for real. It’s not like, ‘F*ck this guy. We just trolled your sh*t.” Cole responds lightheartedly but states, “It worked.”
The body language of the two Rap stars as is interesting as the content of their conversation. Pump fidgets, speaks while he eats, mumbles, and seems completely disengaged at times. Without being rude, he seems to reminds Cole and the viewer that he is just 17 years old—not of voting age. The way he looks upon Cole also suggests admiration and astonishment for the figure he and Purrp once took joy in attempting to defame.
At 42:30, as the chat nears its end, Cole allows Pump to ask any questions he may have. “When did you first hear of me?” asks the Warner Bros. Records artist. The inquiry is telling of Cole’s thoughts that Pump is part of a generation that seeks attention as validation. He answers the question thoughtfully, as both artists seem to throughout the sit-down.
In the closing minutes, Cole—without getting too invasive—asks Pump about the future. He asks if there is a financial plan in place with savings. In retelling his own pursuit of a Rap career, he suggests to his guest that he consider what his career may look like in the next 17 years or so of his life. Pump listens, admits that he sets aside funds. The two artists end the discussion with greater understanding of one another and some very significant commentary on the very themes that is at the heart of KOD.