J. Cole Explains Why He Stopped Doing Interviews For Almost 4 Years
J. Cole released a record-breaking 2018 album in the form of KOD. The MC/producer has become a superstar in recent years. He has also assembled one of the most talented record labels, built of hungry rappers and singers. While speaking with Dee Lockett in a Billboard cover story, Cole reveals that Dreamville Records has played a hand in him doing interviews for the first time since 2014. He also expounds on why he shunned the press, along with social media.
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“Sometimes, when I do do [interviews], I end up feeling like it wasn’t fulfilling,” Cole tells Lockett, while also admitting that he was “not in the mood” for their conversation which took place in Dallas, Texas. The artist says at the suggestion of his manager and label partner, Ibrahim Hamad, he obliged. Having spoken to Vulture, in addition to releasing some of his interview content alongside Angie Martinez, Jermaine explained why he broke his silence with journalists, radio hosts, and the like. “But I also understand I’ve been stuck in my ways. 2014 was probably the year I decided, ‘F*ck it, I’m through trying to play whatever game is going on.'” That was during his 2014 Forest Hills Drive campaign, an album that seemingly marked a new plateau in for the Roc Nation artist. “Then sh*t worked so well I fell all the way back. I’m on the other extreme now. I don’t want to be so stubborn where I don’t listen to people. I’m also building a company, a record label, with other artists. Their success, in some way, may depend on me being a little more present or accessible.” The label’s roster now includes Bas, EarthGang, J.I.D., Cozz, Ari Lennox, and Lute, among others.
Even apart from members of the press, Cole often shuns Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. To Billboard, he reveals he is in a regular group chat with his team, engaging in discourse within a more private setting. These discussions are focused on music as well as sports, two of J’s passions. “There’s not many big things that miss me,” he says. “If I’m in a conversation with somebody and it’s natural and it’s organic, I’m going to speak freely. But rarely do I feel the need to hop on Twitter or social media and chime in, especially on Rap and music sh*t. This sh*t is not real. This sh*t is f*cking fake. This sh*t is high school. This sh*t is f*cking celebrity worship.” The artist adds that he never sees himself as a celebrity.
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Cole, who is recognized for his activism, said that he does not feel the need to sway influence in those forums. “I speak better from the heart, out loud. And when it really moves me, I’ll do it. But politics really doesn’t interest me anymore. I try to stay as far away from politics as possible.” The MC/producer later admits that he did not vote in the 2016 Presidential election, and refrains from endorsement unless he is genuinely in support of a particular candidate.
Since 2014 Forest Hills Drive, Cole has excluded guest rappers from his LPs. He spoke on the prospects of collaborations. “[I am open to me] being collaborative, yes, but being ultra collaborative? Nah. I don’t want ‘Give me your best song’ and pick from them. I don’t even have a lot of rapper friends.”
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#BonusBeat: Justin “The Company Man” Hunte recently made a strong, TBD argument for why KOD is 2018’s most important album: