J. Cole
Photo: Wesley Mann/Billboard

Since the release of his album K.O.D., J.Cole has been making appearances a lot more often in public and has been using his platform to speak up on controversial issues. Landing on the cover of Billboard‘s 2018 R&B | Hip-Hop Power Players issue, Cole talks about an array of topics from XXXTentacion’s death to domestic violence.

Looking up to Nas and crediting him for being an influence early in his career, J. Cole says he was hurt by the allegations Kelis’ brought upon the rapper regarding domestic abuse toward her, never being sober around each other, and their ongoing custody battle.

“It feels weird because I f**k with Nas, but I just have to be honest. I came up seeing too much f**ked-up shit for that to be acceptable,” he said. “I don’t care who it is. I don’t f**k with people abusing women, and I don’t f**k with people not taking care of their kids.”

J. Cole also opened up about meeting with XXXTentacion back in February. Going through a domestic violence case at the time, XXXTentacion opened up to Cole about not being in a good place.

”He started off the conversation literally on some, like — he didn’t even say hello. He started off basically saying, “I’m not on your level yet,” he recalled. “He was talking about spiritually and mentally, and that was intense because I was like, “Huh? I’m not on no level.” He was praising me while also saying he was going to achieve whatever it is he felt that I had. I’ve dealt with mentally ill people in my life before, many of them. And right away, I notice that this kid is super passionate and smart, but I could also see that he was so deep in his mind.”

Continue reading about J. Cole’s views on domestic violence and the misinterpretation surrounding his K.O.D. LP-cut, “1985” below.

 

On Domestic Violence toward Black Women:

That’s tough because we’re talking about black women,” he said. “If it was a white woman involved with these allegations, then sadly — I’m realizing as I’m talking to you — maybe people wouldn’t cancel them just as quick, but labels would be forced to cancel, because white outrage is way more powerful than black outrage, unfortunately. When white people start getting outraged about this type of sh*t, then maybe something will happen.”

 

The Misinterpretation of “1985”:

“Finger wagging,” that’s a phrase that clearly gets shared around. I’m like, “Y’all don’t even understand.” This happened when [2014 album] Forest Hills Drive came out, and I saw someone review it. It was this white girl — no disrespect to white girls, that’s just what she was — and she pinpointed a few lines and tried to make it sound like that’s what I was saying.

I’m like, “Damn, you really missed what I was attempting to do.” I saw that with “1985,” too. I would just chalk it up to, they’re not rap fans. They don’t understand subtlety and nuance in the genre. But what you just said is way more of an on-point reasoning. I made that song a year before, and so much sh*t happened, mentally, leading up to the song and after it. And it’s like people never even get a chance to hear that side of me. But I don’t care to correct it. I don’t have an urge or a desire to be like, “Hey, y’all, you know when I did ‘1985,’ I wasn’t really finger-wagging.” It’s not my job to correct the narrative.

Read the rest of the Billboard cover story here.

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