Keeping it real: J Cole

We quiz the hip hop megastar and 'born sinner' on life in the real world



Add +

Hip hop can be crude, but North Carolina’s Jermaine Cole is a charmer who raps less about guns and hoes, more about his crooked teeth and his mum. With two Number One albums (including the critically acclaimed ‘Born Sinner’, released earlier this year), and a friendship circle that includes Jay Z and Kanye, it must be hard to stay grounded. We find out how he’s doing ahead of his run of three nights at Hammersmith Apollo.

Do you still shop on the high street?
‘The places I went before I had some money? No I don’t, I can’t lie. I feel like I’m a sell out!’

Don’t be glum, let’s talk ‘X Factor’ – who are the judges?
‘What’s “X Factor”? Is that the one where they turn around in their seats?’
No, that’s ‘The Voice’.
‘I don’t get much chance to watch TV, but when I do, I like “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons” and ESPN.’

Forget staying in, then. Imagine you’re out and you lose your money and phone – how do you get home?
‘I would use somebody else’s phone that I see in the street, then I would call somebody I know with Uber. Y’all got Uber over there yet?’
I don’t think so…
‘It’s an app that allows you to call a car anywhere to pick you up. Nice cars too, like an SUV. So I would call somebody and tell them to Uber a car to my direct location and I’d be good.’

Who’s the most famous contact in your phone?
Jay Z. Who’s more famous than Jay Z? Rihanna maybe? Kanye? Although I don’t have his phone number, I only have his email.’

I bet you blow loads on jewellery like Jay ’n’ Ye.
‘Oh man, too much. Thousands!’
Whoa, you’ve got it all. But what six things couldn’t you live without?
‘My laptop definitely, my keyboard for making music, a pad and pen to write ideas down and… friends and family.’

The verdict?

This rapper is flapping dangerously near to the stratosphere.

Watch J Cole's 'Crooked Smile' video

Users say


Listen to J Cole's 'Born Sinner' on Spotify

Read more music features

Interview: Rustie

The shy guy producer on the language of birds and the benefits of recording at 30,000 feet

What's the deal with… Protomartyr

Everything you need to know about the furious foursome from Detroit

Interview: John Morales

The disco hero and studio wizard on being robbed by the Stones and how his bladder influenced his career

Guess who's back: Jamie T

After four years in the wilderness, the Wimbledon bard is making a comeback

Interview: Basement Jaxx

The club-conquering duo are back with a new album, but where’s Felix Buxton’s head at? Ballet, advocating unity and spotting UFOs

See all Time Out music features