J. Cole says his competitive spirit prevented him from reaching out to Drake and Kendrick Lamar over the years.
When it comes to the current state of hip-hop, it's Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole that are often thrown in the conversation of the best lyricists in the game. Those three rappers have managed to keep their pens sharp, reach critical acclaim, and succeed on the charts simultaneously. However, there hasn't been an occasion in history when we've heard all three of them on the same track.
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Following the release of The Off-Season, J. Cole sat down with Kevin Durant and Eddie Gonzalez for the latest episode of Boardroom's The ETC's podcast. The rapper discusses the parallels between ball and rap, as well as the competitive nature that comes with it. The competition is simply a part of the game but Cole detailed how it prevented him from getting close to his peers, namely Drake and Kendrick Lamar.
"I was so competitive early on that, even though we were all friends -- I would say we're all friends and friendly. Like, I've never been a reach out, you know what I mean? I've never been that person, especially when it's competition involved," he explained. He compared his rivalry with Kendrick and Drake to basketball players working out with each other in the past. "Why would I work out with this n***a? I'm trying to destroy this n***a."
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"That was kind of my mentality early on but as I got older I realized like... no one is truly my peer or can truly relate to my life more than [Drake and Kendrick Lamar]," he continued. "No one can really relate to that like like these dudes and I really genuinely fuck with these dudes. So like, I've been absolutely been trying to make an effort, like, as time goes on to strip the competition from it. Like, y'all n***as are cemented forever. I would hope that I'm cemented forever and if not, I will be when it's all said and done."
With hints of retirement scattered through recent interviews, Cole said that the possibility of him leaving the game is real. Because of that, he doesn't want to regret not sharing any memories with Drake and Kendrick -- two artists that he came up with. And stripping the competition appears to be a matter of age at this point.
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"You're not going to be competitive against someone you don't respect. You're not going to be extremely competitive with someone you don't respect. So it's always a respect thing. I think now, it's just a wisdom thing," Cole continued. "It's like, yo, you can never have it all. A hundred percent of people aren't going to say Kevin Durant is the best player walk on the face of the earth. A hundred percent of people are never going to say J. Cole is the best rapper breathing. You won't get 90%. You won't get 90% say Drake. You won't get 90% say Kendrick. It's never gon' happen."
Check out the full clip below.