Whether you think J. Cole is the most talented rapper working today or he’s a little too earnest for his own good (I tend to fall in the latter camp), what’s objective is that he commands attention like few others in the hip-hop conversation. That’s probably why his new interview with Angie Martinez spans more than 90 minutes, touching on many topics from his own artistry to that of his peers. Said peers happen to be Drake and Kanye West, though, so the discussion ends up being a bit more of an important summit than it would normally be.
During the interview (conducted in producer Salaam Remi’s house before Cole’s set at last weekend’s Rolling Loud festival), Cole jokes that Drake, upon hearing that Cole’s recent album KODbeat Drake’s Viewsfor most Apple Music streams in a single day, texted him saying “I hate you.” He clarifies that he’s joking and adds “I don’t really hear from him.” It’s a shame that this text isn’t real because an iPhone bubble from Drake reading “I hate you” is the perfect meme foundation.
Speaking of embarrassingly public iPhone conversations, Cole has much to say on the subject of Kanye West, who posted a since-deleted screenshot of himself on the phone with the younger artist on Twitter last month. Cole tells Martinez that he’s not at liberty to divulge exactly what was discussed between the two, but that he later reprimanded West for what he viewed as a cheap marketing ploy. “I told him that it felt like you just used my name in that very quick conversation for social media and to keep your thing going or whatever you were doing,” says Cole, “It felt like it wasn’t sincere because of that.”
Naturally, they discuss Kanye’s recent, disappointing public persona, particularly relevant seeing as Cole’s 2016 song “False Prophets” has largely been interpreted as a veiled response to West’s “I would’ve voted for Trump” stage rants that same year. Cole confirms that the song’s first verse is about West but that the remainder of the lyrics concern stan culture as a whole, saying “I check myself on that song as well… We’re worshipping celebrities.” As for his thoughts on West’s current “free thought” phase, he’s reticent, explaining that “I don’t like talking about other people,” but noting that during that previously mentioned phone call, Kanye seemingly instructed Cole to foster further discourse: “When he called me he said, ‘I need you to hold me accountable. Keep me in check. Say whatever you gotta say. I need that. I feed off that.'” Regardless, he insists that he’s still a fan of Kanye’s.
Ultimately and appropriately, addiction is the key theme of the interview, whether it’s Cole’s own social media habit (“I feel like with social media, it’s like, what’s this pull? Why do I keep checking this shit every five minutes?”) or what he sees as a pursuit of fame at all costs being undertaken by the younger generation of rappers, as detailed on his KODcut “1985.” That being said, he tells Martinez that he not only “loves” Lil Pump and co. but genuinely enjoys their music and understands the appeal of their simplicity (Pump himself was later filmed dancing to Cole’s Rolling Loud set).
“I actually fuck with their music. It’s not like I drive around and listen to it but I’ve spent time listening and being like, ‘yo, this is fun.’ It ain’t about shit and it don’t matter, but this is fun. It might at the cost of something, it might have some detrimental effects, but what am I gonna say… this don’t make me do this? [bobs shoulders up and down]”
It’s in all honesty an extremely fascinating interview that somehow provides an overview of many this year’s biggest rap narratives. I’ve only barely touched on what Cole talks about here, so take a look at the whole thing above.
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This article originally appeared on Noisey CA.