North Carolina rapper J. Cole is GQ magazine’s April cover star.
In the story titled, “Buck the System,” Cole talks about NBA All-Star weekend, making memories, not getting a Grammy, fatherhood, and being reclusive.
“Everybody hits me up. I got people texting me, like, ‘Bro, I can’t believe you’re performing the All-Star Game halftime show. Ain’t that so crazy?’ In my mind, I’m just like, ‘Bro, this feels like a job—you know what I mean,'” Cole said.
“I don’t like center-of-attention-type moments. Like the camera, mad people, the world watching the arena, and I have to do something right.”
Cole recently took a trip to Maui with his family. He wanted to chill and relax, but his wife wanted to site see.
“I never wanna do excursions. It feels like work,” he said. “It’s like, I ain’t trying to get up at 6 A.M., take the three-hour drive to where we’re going hiking. [But now] I got somebody I care about saying, ‘Come on, like, we need to do this.’ I realize, like, memories come from getting out of my comfort zone—great memories.
“I’ve reached a point in my life,” Cole continues, “where I’m like, ‘How long am I gonna be doing this for?’ I’m starting to realize like, oh shit—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.”
J. Cole’s albums have gone platinum but the rapper has yet to win a Grammy. At one point he desperately wanted the highly coveted award but now says, “I’m not supposed to have a Grammy, you know what I mean?” Cole said. “At least not right now, and maybe never. And if that happens, then that’s just how it was supposed to be.”
During the interview, J. Cole also talked about how he didn’t feel a huge shift after he became a father because he had already made changes in his life to prepare for his son.
“For a while, I felt a little weird about it. Like, nah. I felt, ‘Did I miss something?’ ‘Cause I didn’t feel the change that people talk about. And then I figured out what it was,” Cole said.
“I changed my life in order to get ready to have a family and to have a son. I literally changed my life, where I was living, the things that I was doing. I changed. So because of that, when my son came, I was ready. I already made room.”
Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan