The first time I heard about J Cole, my co-worker was bragging about him (while the song is playing) with immense enthusiasm. With the few snippets caught through his in-office karaoke session, I was immediately impressed with Cole’s wittiness out the gate. The guy began telling me that Cole’s from someplace called Fayetteville,
North Carolina but he moved up to NYC for college. With more boastful bragging about Cole being the latest signee to Roc Nation (post-Roc-A-Fella breakup), my interest grew based on word of mouth alone. After work, my co-worker sold me a burned copy of his mixtape so I can get hip to the future. In retrospect, I had no idea that I was going to become a lifelong fan of one of the greatest rappers of this generation (and Hip-Hop in general).
I heard J Cole’s self-produced “The Come Up” back in 2007 while I was still in college. His thought-provoking punchlines over soulful samples told the story of a boy who became a man once he moved to the Big Apple New York City. Despite getting signed and making gradual success in the rap game, not fully pursuing his basketball career constantly haunted him. We all know that hooper in the neighborhood who had the potential to make it to the league but didn’t take it seriously enough to put in the work. That college degree solidified his aspirations to get drafted is done, so he gave his all to the music. The theme of basketball shaped his career focal point that resonates with Cole World fans to this day:
2009 – The Warm-Up
2010 – Friday Night Lights
2011 – Cole World: The Sideline Story
2021 – The Off-Season
His recent release of “The Off Season” debuted #1 on the charts, with arguably the biggest release in 2021. The instant masterpiece entails his view of the world while he’s been away from the game. With an Instagram post teasing his upcoming releases “It’s a Boy” & “The Fall Off”, he is getting musically prepared to put his body of work into the Hall of Fame. Despite missing the opportunity to play in the league, Cole has dropped a “Dreamer” signature shoe with Puma that is worn by NBA players such as Kyle Kuzma, DeAndre Ayton, Danny Green, and countless others. But nothing tops him finally getting the chance to make things right with himself by playing for NBA’s Basketball Africa League team Rwandan Patriots. At 36, he turned his regret into personal redemption to not let any rock go unturned in his life (while his album is #1 on iTunes I might add). J Cole’s story is a true testament to never give up on your dreams.
Is there anything you dream about doing that you now want to pursue? Share your dream and comment on how you plan to make it into reality.