J Cole Digital Biography
He was born Jermaine Lamarr Cole on January 28, 1985 in Frankfurt, Germany on to a European American mother and an African American father. He moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina with his mother when his father left the family.
Cole fell into rapping at the age of 12 when his cousin from Louisiana spent the summer in Fayetteville, showing him the basics of rhyming. He was instantly hooked. From there he delved deep into the music of hip hop luminaries including Tupac Shakur, Nas and OutKast, taking from them a love for telling stories with an unbridled rigor. Seizing every opportunity to write, at age 15 J. Cole found himself with composition notebooks full of rhymes but no beats of his own to lay them on. Determined to create original songs, he begged his mother for a beat machine so he could produce music solely for himself. She granted his wish and from there, a young Cole spent all his free time creating sounds and songs that would lay the foundation for what his style has evolved to today. Cole spent the remainder of his teen years as Therapist, posting his music online under the moniker.
In pursuit of a better chance, he moved to New York City as soon as he graduated from high school He enrolled in St. John's University on an academic scholarship where he majored in communication and minored in business, graduating magna cum laude. He was working as a bill collector in the city but his passion laid somewhere else. Cole first came up with a mixtape called "The Come Up" in 2007.
With only courage and determination, Cole stood outside Jay-Z's office building for hours to give him his demo tape. But when the big rapper came out, Cole was shunned. But luck came not long before that. He received a text from an associate who told him that he has a business meeting with Jay-Z to attend.
Jay-Z apparently heard his song "Lights Please". Cole was officially the first artist to be signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation. "I got the record deal," Cole recalled, "but I still had to learn and improve as far as being ready to drop an album." He was then featured in his mentor's album "The Blueprint 3" on the track "A Star Is Born." From there, Cole was a known collaborator, working with Wale, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, B.o.B and a lot more.
His first single "Who Dat" appeared on the mixtape "The Warm Up". He supported the album with a college tour in 2010. His third official mixtape "Friday Night Lights" was released in November that year, featuring names like Drake and Wale. He then joined Drake as his supporting act in the Light Dreams and Nightmares UK Tour in early 2011. He went on supporting Tinie Tempah and Rihanna in the next few months ahead.
All the while, Cole was preparing for his first studio album. "All singles done. Album ridiculous. Title Perfect. Music incredible. Thank you for your patience. Let's change the game," he tweeted in May 2011. The album is called "Cole World: The Sideline Story" and was released on September 27, 2011. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 200 in its first week on sale.
On October 24, 2011 during an interview with Hot 106’s Rise & Grind morning show, Cole revealed he had begun working on his second studio album, with hopes of releasing it in June 2012. He had also stated that the album would consist of songs that failed to make his debut: "I don’t know how many, but I got songs that didn't make the last album that are automatically going to make this one,” he said, revealing the release date. “June. End of June, maybe June." On November 6, 7 and 8, Cole was the supporting act for Tinie Tempah, appearing at Bournemouth International Centre; Liverpool Echo Arena, Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales; LG Arena, Birmingham, England; SECC Arena, Glasgow, Scotland; and MEN Arena, Manchester. J. Cole was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2012 Grammys but lost to Bon Iver.
J. Cole played for the Eastern Team in the 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend Celebrity Game. On February 24, 2012 J. Cole reached two million followers on Twitter, he celebrated by releasing the song "Grew Up Fast." On March 1, 2012, J. Cole returned to his home town, Fayetteville, North Carolina. To celebrate his return he released the song "Visionz of Home" and launched an event titled "Dreamville Weekend" to inspire the youth of his hometown to achieve great things. J. Cole performed for the first time in Africa during the Big Brother Africa 7 opening ceremony on 6 May 2012, alongside Camp Mulla, P-Square, Naeto C, Flavour N'abania, Davido and Aemo E'Face.
On May 14, J.Cole announced that he is working on a collaborative album with Kendrick Lamar saying in an interview with Bootleg Kev that "I just started working with Kendrick the other day. We got it in, finally, again. We got maybe four or five [songs] together." The project will be more focused on and released once Born Sinner is released. On July 26, he returned to Twitter after a 100-day absence and went on to reveal and release his new song "The Cure" in where he hints at a new album. On October 20, he announced at a live show that his second album is complete and he's waiting until after Lamar releases good kid, m.A.A.d city to reveal it.
On November 5, Cole revealed the title of his sophomore album, Born Sinner, as well as a scheduled release date of January 28, 2013, via ustream. On November 13, 2012, Cole released a promotional single for the album entitled "Miss America." Cole stated he hoped "Miss America" would shift music in a different direction, adding that he knew it wouldn't be a big radio hit. He elaborated further, saying, "To me, 'Miss America' shifts things a little bit, it changes the conversation it takes it in a more aggressive direction, more raw, more social commentary... Any type of commentary is good compared to what a normal single is these days. That's my aim, is to shift culture slightly, change the conversation. Nobody expects that for your first single." The song would not go on to make the cut for the standard edition of Born Sinner. However, it would be featured on the deluxe edition of the album, alongside five other tracks which collectively created Truly Yours 3, the third member of the Truly Yours trilogy.
Having experienced a healthy amount of success early on, for Born Sinner Cole made a creative return to the routines that initially got him his deal. "I got back to what it used to be, straight making music in the bedroom. No studio," he says.
The shift resulted in "Power Trip," Born Sinner’s multi-layered first single featuring Grammy Award-winning R&B vocalist Miguel. Cole released the song on Valentine’s Day 2013 and already has cracked the top 10 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Rap charts. The song’s melodic sample-based instrumental creates the perfect sound bed for Cole’s deep lyrical whims which center around the complex feelings that love can create. Its groundbreaking video only enhances the experience, telling a dark tale of obsession and murder.
"This single is so organic. It happened at a time where I needed to get away from the studio," Cole says. "I just start cooking up in the house. I started with the drums, added the sample, added the music, then I added that percussion and bass line and started humming melodies. That was a fun night, probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time making a song."
Cole’s story begins with music, but extends so far outside of the recording studio. In February he was invited to Harvard University to spearhead an hour-long lecture titled "The Next Move: A Conversation With J. Cole," where he spoke with students about his early influences, dreams of playing professional basketball in the NBA and lyrical inspiration. It’s that same story that inspired all of the music on Born Sinner, which Cole produced in its entirety. "The things that I’ve been through is the reason for that, it all makes me stronger," he says. "All that will be told on the album, people will get it."
Following the originally planned release date of January 28, 2013, Cole had announced a set release date of June 25, 2013 for Born Sinner. However, when it was announced that Kanye West's Yeezus would be released just one week earlier on June 18, Cole moved the release date of Born Sinner up a week in order to compete with West, later commenting, "This is art, and I can't compete against the Kanye West celebrity and the status that he's earned just from being a genius," Cole added. "But I can put my name in the hat and tell you that I think my album is great and you be the judge and you decide."
Born Sinner sold 297,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, finishing approximately 30,000 copies short of Kanye West's Yeezus. As of September 19, 2013, the album has sold 599,000 copies in the United States. He released two more singles in support of the album, "Crooked Smile" featuring TLC and "Forbidden Fruit" featuring Kendrick Lamar.
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