FAMOUS FRIDAY: J. COLE
Rapper J. Cole is on fire! I told our Project RACE readers about how awesome and brilliant he was three years ago and he’s only gotten hotter since then. Just last month, his new album, “KOD,” was released, and on that very first day logged more than 36.5 million Spotify streams in the United States alone, a record breaking first-day for Spotify. “KOD” hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart, Cole’s fifth consecutive Billboard No. 1!
J.Cole is a German-American hip hop recording artist, producer, and writer from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany in January 1985 as Jermaine Lamarr Cole when his African American father was serving in the United States Army. His Caucasian German mother worked as an actress. His father left the family when he was really young and his mother relocated the family to Fayetteville, NC when Cole was just eight months old. Cole began rapping at 12 and by15 had started keeping notebooks of beats and lyrics to create sounds and songs that evolved into the popular style we hear today. A straight A student in high school, he earned an academic scholarship to and graduated from St. John’s University in New York City. He chose to study and live in New York where he believed he would have a better chance of obtaining a record deal. His move to NYC proved to be a good move all around. He majored in communications, minored in business, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.82 GPA . Then, soon after, he was the first artist signed by Jay-Z for the record label Roc Nation!
His career has been rising ever since thanks to his talent for making music full of raw and honest stories that resonate with the public. J. Cole has credited his great success, in part, to experiencing both sides of his race. He states that the perspective he brings is a side that’s aware of both of his races. He states he would not be able to say the things he does without seeing them from the “other side”. He makes it known he is proud to represent both races in his music. He has said that he identities more with what he looks like, because that’s how he is treated by the world.
Since our last Famous Friday on this talent, Cole has gotten married and become a father to a little girl. The Cole family have returned to live in Cole’s hometown of Fayetteville. His wife, Melissa Heholt, attended St. John’s University with him and they dated for approximately 10 years before marrying. Mellissa is an event planner and also serves as the Executive Director of the Dreamville Foundation. The Dreamville Foundation is a non-profit that J.Cole created to “bridge the gap” between the worlds of opportunity and the urban youth of Fayetteville, NC. The foundation’s goal for the urban youth is to have a dream, believe in their dream, and achieve their dream. The Dreamville Foundation is dedicated to creating programs and events that will allow youth to be set up for success.
“I want to start the process of showing them there are other options besides what’s on the screen,” he explains, “They don’t have to be a rapper of an athlete, there are people who manage the rappers, who book the shows. There are so many jobs you can do, this is about expanding their minds to those possibilities.”
-Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Teens
Photo Credit: BET.com