After earning the highest charting Billboard Hot 100 hit of his career with "Middle Child," J. Cole found himself covering the April 2019 issue of GQ, continuing what is destined to be a landmark year for the MC.
During the accompanying interview, which was conducted prior to performing at the 2019 NBA All-Star Game last month, the North Carolina native opens up about what he feels his legacy is, what fans can expect in the next chapter of his career and how he plans to continue evolving as a man and artist.
As fans can attest, an integral part of J. Cole's reputation lies in his ability to excel in music without relying on the undeniable impact having a featured artist on a track can have. As such, the long-running phenomena of the rapper "going platinum with no features" has turned into a notorious meme; one that he interestingly enough is embarrassed of.
The Grammy-nominated artist explains how he first found the memes to be "funny as hell" but now, as he continues to find his footing as a legend in the rap game, is reconsidering both how he feels about his reputation and how he is opening up to the idea of collaborating with others more closely.
"But the second or third time, I was like, 'All right, it's almost embarrassing now,'" Cole said, reflecting on the memes. "Like, 'All right, man, y'all gonna make me put a feature on the album just so this s--t can stop.'"
Later in the interview, he touches on this subject explicitly, noting how fans can anticipate more features this year.
"I've reached a point in my life where I'm like, 'How long am I gonna be doing this for?'" he continued. "I'm starting to realize like, oh s--t—let's say I stopped this year. I would feel like I missed out on certain experiences, you know? Working with certain artists, being more collaborative, making more friends out of peers, making certain memories that I feel like if I don't, I'm gonna regret it one day."
Elsewhere throughout the profile, he touches on the elusive Dreamville sessions, during which he, the label's roster and select contributors joined forces to create 127 tracks which will eventually be trimmed down and released as the compilation, Revenge of the Dreamers III.
"It was like Disneyland or some s--t," Cole said. "I've been so secluded within myself that people think I don't like anybody, that I won't work with anybody. It's a reputation that's been extending to my artists, too."
Take a look at some photos from the April 2019 edition of GQ below, and read the full profile here.
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Put simply, J. Cole is one of the most popular rap artists of this generation. His two early mixtapes, 'The Warm Up' and 'Friday Night Lights,' are considered classics. He's released five albums, all of them platinum-certified chartbusters. Three of these went platinum with no features—as in, without the help of appearances by other artists. At the link in bio, read about how the North Carolina rapper ascended to the hip-hop world's top tier. (📸@awolerizku) #newgq #jcole