New York, NY – Maybe you think J. Cole is just a mixtape rapper.
And that’s ok with him – for now.
But the 26-year-old North Carolina native is confident those opinions will change when his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story is released this week.
“They say you…got your whole life to work on your first album,” Cole told theGrio’s Todd Johnson. “I got songs on [here] that are four years old, I got stories on there that are longer than that. It just means that much to me.”
Cole, whose rap moniker is a shortened version of his first name Jermaine, has built a huge following based on the success of three previous mixtapes.
In 2009, he became the first rapper signed to Jay-Z’s label Roc Nation — and even features the hip-hop legend on the album track, “Mr. Nice Watch.”
“I wouldn’t even say [it was] a dream come true because I’ve never dreamed that…it didn’t even feel possible,” Cole said of his relationship with Jay-Z. “It’s a huge blessing to be able to have him a text away or a call away…”
“I learned how to perform in front of a pop audience,” Cole said. “I went on tour with [Jay-Z], with Drake but when I went on tour with her…she had the highest production value I had ever seen.”
And with that expanding fanbase and publicity, Cole found himself in an unfamiliar place — a target for gossip.
“You know…they really make up out of thin air anything,” Cole said of rumors speculating he had made a sextape with Rihanna. “It made me upset at the fact that I had believed any of the other rumors.”
Cole’s latest single, “Can’t Get Enough” features R&B crooner Trey Songz.