10 million Twitter followers. 3x platinum albums. A legion of dedicated fans. It’s a massive understatement to say that J Cole is important to a lot of people.
I want to share a personal narrative. One that is quite literally personal to me. And then the narrative of other J Cole fans. Creatives. Musicians. People who have been affected and / or influenced for the better by J.
Mine’s a bit of a cliche start, which is reflected by an emotion feel during J’s Nottingham show. About an hour in, he drops a stunning live rendition of ‘Love Yourz’. A song that is so simple, but so powerful. He introduces it by saying, “there comes a time in every man’s life, when ya gotta stop the fucking around, and grow up, be a real man.” I remember the first moment I heard the track, sat in some hipster cafe waiting for my drink that I can’t even pronounce. It just made me think. About our relationships in life. About the importance of the people you hold close. It made me text my fam and tell ‘em I love em. That kinda vibe.
Through the different humans I’ve spoken too about J, one thing has remained consistent. “He’s very real, you see him on the street, and he’s just acting like a normal guy.” says Ore. Now lets not forget those facts I shared with ya at the start. This is a guy who even with millions of fans, and platinum albums, has still stayed ‘down to earth’.
In the ever-growing complicated world we live in, J’s narrative and perspective on life’s issues is refreshing to say the least. Speaking to MceBisi, he shared one of the important topics that Cole has touched upon – “In a time where mental health seems to increasingly be an issue, J Cole’s musical journey has given me a blueprint of how one can navigate through life whilst walking on the very blurred line of confidence and humility.”
Out of the humans that I speak to, the majority of them are fellow musicians, who share a sentiment when it comes to J’s inspiration – “His ‘real’ perspective inspires you to stay true to self, not giving up on what you believe in and what’s most important to you in the search for what is real.” says MceBisi. Luke Peter Foster shared that ideal, “I appreciate this type of work, you know there’s honesty in every kick placement, and you know every line J writes is straight from the horse’s mouth without distraction. I think this is so important in the corporate controlled musical world we live in, that artists J Cole are still making art that’s true to themselves.”
Back to the live show – one of the standout moments is the performance of ‘Neighbors’. With which Cole introduces a video clip from his home in a suburban neighbourhood. He explains how 10+ police invaded his house, kicking the doors down, and ripping out the security cameras. Now ya may be thinking this is all part of the show, that is until he shows the footage on screen. It was one of the most ‘what the fuck’ moments I’ve ever experienced in live music. You couldn’t believe the levels if you weren’t seeing it with your own eyes.
That is just one insight into the crazy whirlwind life that J, now aged 32, shares with his fans during his live show. It’s just one of the true stories, deep with honesty, that have attracted so many (like those featured in this article) to his music. Is it a stretch to call him a revolutionary? I don’t think so. Would I be surprised if their was a revolt against the horribly politicised world we lived in? No. Would I be proud if it was J at the front of that revolt?
Words by Sam Nahirny