Jermaine Lamarr Cole is an American rap artist, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He is known also as J Cole. This rapper was born in Germany on January 28, 1985, on a military base. He grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Cole’s father is an African-American veteran who has served in the U.S. Army for many years. His mother’s name is Kay and she worked in United States Postal Service. Cole and his family were abandoned by his father when he was very young. Jermaine, his brother Zach and their mother lived together in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Both of them were raised in a multi-ethnic environment, which is why this famous artist feels like he can identify with both sides of his family. As a child, he loved basketball and music, and he even was a first-chair violinist in the Terry Sanford Orchestra.
When he was only 12 years old he began rapping and was convinced it was a perfect career for him. He received an ASR-X musical sampler as a present from his mother on Christmas. Cole worked hard on his production skills and used the Therapist as his pseudonym. After some time he started to work with a local group called Bomm Sheltuh. He was rapping and producing music as a part of the team.
After graduating high school he moved to New York City and went to St. John’s University. First, he studied computer science but later switched to communication and business since he realized he was not happy with the previous program. He became the president of Haraya, a unique student coalition. He received his official degree in 2015.
He used to work as an ad salesman for the newspaper, a bill collector, a file clerk, and even a mascot.
Cole was very inspired by many famous artists such as Canibus, Nas, Tupac, and Eminem. He worked on his improvement along with his cousin and practiced songwriting.
When he was only 14 he had a few notebooks that were filled with his notes and song ideas. Cole did not have a chance to produce beats, he only did sampling. His mother bought him the Roland TR-808 drum machine in order to help him understand production. He made various songs and posted them on several internet forums.
After a few years, he started producing CD’s worth of instrumentals. He went to Roc the Mic Studio and hoped to collab with Jay Z, but he was dismissed.
He published his first mixtape in 2007. and called it The Come Up. It includes beats from various artists such as Kanye West, Large Professor, and Just Blaze.
His second mixtape is The Warm-Up (2009) and it includes a “Lights Please” track which helped him get noticed by Mark Pitts, a music producer. He signed a contract with Roc Nation and started working with many famous rappers, Wale, Jay Z, and Talib Kweli.
J Cole appeared on Jay-Z’s album called The Blueprint 3 (2009), on the song “A Star Is Born.” He was also a part of Wale’s first album, Attention Deficit (2009) and his mixtape named Back to the Feature (2009). He worked on Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek’s single, “Just Begun”. Cole also appeared on Reflection Eternal’s album titled Revolutions Per Minute (2010), on B.o.B’s mixtape called May 25 (2010), on the famous track “Gladiators”. His name was on the list of “50 Great Breakthrough Artists,” and Top Ten Freshmen by XXL Magazine’s 2010.
His third mixtape came out in 2010. by the name Friday Night Lights. He also joined Drake on his Light Dreams and Nightmares UK Tour. Cole published his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story in 2011. and it became certified platinum. Jay-Z was featured on his debut album. After a few months, he published a mixtape The Warm Up.
“Every Sunday til the album drops I’ll be back with something. Maybe just 1 song, maybe a video, depending on how I’m feeling,” J Cole wrote on his twitter and announced Any Given Sunday. He performed in Barbados on Rihanna’s Loud Tour.
Cole World: The Sideline Story was published on September 27, 2011. It hit US Billboard 200 chart and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
He collaborated with a rapper Missy Elliott on his track titled “Nobody’s Perfect”. He supported Tinie Tempah and performed at Bournemouth International Centre; Liverpool Echo Arena, Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales; LG Arena, Birmingham, England; SECC Arena, Glasgow, Scotland; and MEN Arena, Manchester.
In 2012. he was nominated for Best New Artist. J Cole played during the NBA All-Star Weekend Celebrity Game in 2012. He had a performance at Big Brother Africa 7 opening and was joined by Camp Mulla, P-Square, Naeto C, Flavour N’abania, Davido, and Aemo E’Face.
“I just started working with Kendrick the other day. We got it in, finally, again. We got maybe four or five songs together,” were Cole’s words that announced a new album featuring Kendrick Lamar.
“Miss America” was the first published single of his new album called Born Sinner. It was one of his favorite songs. “To me, ‘Miss America’ shifts things a little bit, it changes the conversation, it takes it in a more aggressive direction, more raw, more social commentary… Any type of commentary is good compared to what a normal single is these days. That’s my aim, is to shift culture slightly, change the conversation. Nobody expects that for your first single,” said Cole.
Born Sinner was sold in 297,000 copies in the US and hit the Billboard 200 chart. Soon after that, he published a few songs, “Apparently”, “Wet Dreamz”, “No Role Modelz”, and “Love Yourz”.
He published Forest Hills Drive which appeared as number one on Top Rap Album at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards as well as Album of the Year BET Hip Hop Awards in 2015. The album was nominated for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance.
Road to Homecoming documentary was published in 2016. and featured Kendrick Lamar, Wale, Rihanna, Pusha T, Big Sean, Jay Z, and Drake. His next album is called 4 Your Eyez Only and it hit number one on the Billboard 200 list. “Deja Vu” song was very successful and appeared on US Billboard Hot 100 list. This album was also certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
His next album named KOD was named after Kids on Drugs, King Overdosed, or Kill Our Demons. It was also featured on US Billboard 200 list and Billboard Hot 100. KOD Tour featured many famous names such as Young Thug, Jaden Smith, EarthGang and Kill Edward.
Revenge of the Dreamers III was published in 2019. and hit the US Billboard 200 list.
“There’s a story behind every person, a reason why they are the way they are. So, think about that before you judge someone.”
“I still wanna rap better than everybody else, and I wanna say important things.”
“I don’t like to think of it as being fired. Instead, I prefer to think of it as being on indefinite leave with a sabbatical flair.”
“The music becomes more pure and soulful when it’s true, and it has to be true these days with the way the internet works, and the way the game works, everyone wants authentic raps.”
He is married to Melissa Holt and together they have a son. Melissa also attended St. John’s University. She works as the Executive Director of the Dreamville Foundation.
In 2023, J Cole’s net worth was estimated to be around $30 million. He is a very hard-working artist and thinks that these three things will lead you to success: Try doing what you love, start young and always learn more.