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J. Cole Talks Addiction, “Kevin’s Heart” & “1985” in Vulture Profile

blame it on Shake April 25, 2018

Fresh off the release of KOD, J. Cole sat down with Vulture for a rare interview to get a few things off his chest.

On top of discussing his record-breaking album, Cole also shared his thoughts on SoundCloud rappers, how he stopped caring about other’s opinions, addiction, meditation, becoming a father and husband, getting inspiration from Kendrick Lamar, and more.

On the promotion of drug use…

“We live in a society where all this drug use is normalized, it’s the norm, it’s okay, it’s fucking encouraged, it’s fucking promoted,” Cole says. “You turn on the TV — you feeling down? Of course I’m feeling down, I’m a fucking human being. Try this. Whatever this thing is. Like, nah, how about you actually feel sad and figure out what the fuck it is that got you feeling sad, so you can work on that.”

On “1985” and the alleged targets…

“It’s really a ‘shoe fits’ situation — several people can wear that shoe,” Cole says. “Why you yelling at your show? You must feel attacked in some kind of way, must feel offended, and if you feel offended, then that means something rings true, something struck a chord. That’s cool with me. That’s all I ever want to do.”

“If you exclude the top three rappers in the game, the most popping rappers all are exaggerated versions of black stereotypes,” he continues. “Extremely tatted up. Colorful hair. Flamboyant. Brand names. It’s caricatures, and still the dominant representation of black people, on the most popular entertainment format for black people, period.”

The inspiration behind “Kevin’s Heart”

The inspiration for another song came unexpectedly, while [Cole] was lying in bed with his wife. “Oh no, Kevin, oh my god, Kevin,” she groaned, while scrolling through her phone. “What did you do, Kevin?” It was comedian Kevin Hart. He had cheated on his pregnant wife, Eniko Parrish, and was apologizing on Instagram. Cole and Hart had been pals for a long time; they met backstage at one of Hart’s shows in Westchester, New York, at least nine or ten years ago. The news sparked a long conversation between Cole and his wife, about the nature of relationships and infidelity, a discussion that inspired the song.

“I thought it was dope,” Hart said on set at the Los Angeles Theater, where they’re shooting the video, with his wife and newborn son Kenzo within earshot. “It wasn’t done from a hateful or spiteful place. It was done with a smart intent behind it, which I think a lot of Cole’s stuff is done.”

On top of that, the profile also reveals the inspiration behind kiLL edward, the only “feature” on KOD (which is simply Cole’s voice at a different pitch). According to the piece, the alias is named after Cole’s step-father, Edward, who left his mother in 2003 and sparked her struggle with drinking and drug addiction.

“For him to tell it—does it hurt, it is a bit embarrassing? Yes,” Cole’s mother, Kay, says. “But Jermaine was given a gift. Certainly he’s talented, intelligent, he’s a hard worker and perseveres. He was also given this gift of compassion. And patience. And unconditional love. Humans have been self-medicating since the beginning of time, but let’s talk why.”

Peep the full profile at Vulture.