J. Cole is coming off of an incredible high.
His third studio album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, debuted number 1 on the Billboard 200 last week. It amassed over 375K album unit sales (streaming included) in its first week, making it the biggest hip-hop release of 2014 (beating out Rick Ross’ Mastermind, that tallied 179k, by nearly 200k units).
It also broke Spotify’s record for most one-week streams, previously held by One Direction at 11.6 million, by racking up 15.7 million streams.
So how is it possible for an artist – not named JAY Z or Beyoncè – to experience this much success, releasing unexpectedly, with no album promotion, or radio single manning the airwaves?
It’s because J. Cole, like very few in this industry (i.e. Kendrick), is a poster-boy for authenticity in a world filled with many of the opposing. He is a voice speaking on behalf of the people; providing the blueprint for makin’ it, the honest way, all while chronicling the struggles that we’re subject to on a daily basis.
And there’s no better time than now, amid the discouragement that national headlines have lended within communities nationwide, for a respected, relatable voice to emerge and hold us down with substance-laced punchlines and a willingness to speak from the heart.
In promoting his latest project, Cole has gone on an incredible media tour delivering the type of content that is often overlooked at the moment, but appreciated decades later – like vintage ‘Pac footage.
A legendary performance on David Letterman, an FMSL (F*** Money, Spread Love) bus tour and one amazing interview, with Angie Martinez on HOT 97, highlight his recent efforts.
To lend a hand in helping you STAY WOKE (if you’ve been living under a rock) or simply refresh your memory, we provide you with a breakdown of his awesomeness, below:
Cole performed the emotional “Be Free” track live on David Letterman
…Then had an honest, unfiltered conversation with HOT 97’s Angie Martinez
On capitalism, selfishness…
On “Fire Squad”, the system and the future of hip-hop…
“Let the culture be pushed by something real, not capitalism”
On industry music, today…
“We’ve been pimped.. we’ve gotten into a cycle of thinking that this music that we sell to the world – or that we ingest – really represents us… We really think that this music represents who we are… If you really take a listen to what’s being played right now, it really doesn’t represent us anymore.. Or i don’t know if it ever did! Or if it just represented what could be sold, or what could be marketed.”
On Love & Hip-Hop, and selling out…
“It’s trash… it’s corrupting people. What other shows do they show you, that could counter [reality TV]?”
On politicians, Barack Obama…
“I don’t know what else he could’ve done.. You could only work within the confines of the system..”
On his success, love and values…
“We place our importance, as a world, on the wrong things.. We’ve let this system tell us that these things are important… Have your things, but don’t place value in them.. It ain’t real.. LOVE is real”
The elementary concept of spreading love, is one of the ways Cole believes we could unite as a people and live happier lives. In attempts of practicing what he’s preached, he engaged in twelve city bus tour surprising loyal fans with dope gestures.
This included visiting their homes, playing pick-up football at LSU, buying Behinana’s for select Atlanta fans and renting out an entire movie theatre to watch Chris Rock’s “Top FIVE” with Charlotte fans – all to thank them for their constant support.
Spearheaded by J. Cole, consciousness, authenticity and love is trending up.
And that’s very encouraging for our culture, because it is certainly needed during these emotionally trying times.