J. Cole Says Jay-Z's Cold Shoulder Taught Him A Lesson
It was 2007. J. Cole was fresh out of St. John's University and saw that Jay-Z was working on American Gangster. "I read the press release online and it was like, "Jay-Z, finishing American Gangster," J. Cole says to Power 106's Big Boy. "I was like, 'Yo, he's not done yet. I can go make beats right now and get on this album 'cause I know where the studio is at. So I went home, made two beats, one was called 'Top of the World,' put a hook on it and everything. Burned my CD. Put the CD in the Jay-Z Vol. 3 [...Life And Times Of S. Carter] case, maybe Vol. 2 [...Hard Knock Life] case, closed it up, took the train to the city, stood outside the studio, me and partner E, for like three hours, with a bottle of E&J [Brandy], just like passing time waiting on Jay-Z to pull up. The Phantom finally comes around the corner. It's raining by the way. We've been in the rain. The Phantom finally pulls around the corner. Someone get out the car in front of him just to open his door. That was their job, to get out their car, come to his car and open his door. He hops out. I'm froze. I don’t really know what to say. I'm like, 'Yo, Jay I got this for you.' He's like, 'What is that? What are you doing?' I'm like, American Gangster, beat CD.' I can't really speak and he’s like, 'Man I don’t want that shit, man. Give that to one of those guys.' He said it. 'I'm like, "Oh you mother... Don’t you know I've been out here for three hours?"
J. Cole says that that experience changed his perspective. "It took me 15 minutes to get over it, but I realized, 'You're not gonna get on like that. That’s not how its gonna happen,'" he says. "But when people come up to me, they give me their CDs, chances are I'm never going to listen just 'cause I'm busy. But I do take it, just to give em that extra boost. They go home like, 'Yo, he took my CD.' That might give 'em three more months of like inspiration."
J. Cole later signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation company and began taking advice from Jigga when he was working on his debut album, 2011's Cole World: The Sideline Story.