J. Cole graced the cover of Billboard and revealed that he had mixed feelings about XXXTentacion’s assault accusations. He recalled a “super intense” conversation he had with the young rapper months before his passing. 

“I spoke to him on FaceTime one day in February for, like, three hours,” Cole recalled. “His management reached out to Ib and asked if he could FaceTime me or call me. It was a super-intense conversation. He left a mark on me, just as a person.”

They began talking about spirituality later in the conversation and that’s when Cole realized X was battling bigger demons. “He was talking about spiritually and mentally, and that was intense because I was like, ‘Huh? I’m not on no level,’” Cole said. “He was praising me while also saying he was going to achieve whatever it is he felt that I had. I’ve dealt with mentally ill people in my life before, many of them. And right away, I notice that this kid is super passionate and smart, but I could also see that he was so deep in his mind.”

From the FaceTime call and his countless conversations with young Black men who are caught up in the criminal justice system, J. Cole concluded that X dealt with past trauma which is causing him to inflict pain on to others. 

“Because anybody who would do the shit that he did…Hurt people hurt people,” he said, referring to X’s horrific abuse allegations. “I’ve walked through prisons and talked to these dudes who got life. They took someone’s life at 16 or 17 years old. You haven’t had the chance to process your trauma at that age. I’ma be sympathetic to a kid who has clearly been through so much fucked-up shit that he inflicted this on someone else.”

The convo then shifted to Nas who was publicly accused of abusing his ex-wife, Kelis. 

“It feels weird because I fuck with Nas, but I just have to be honest. I came up seeing too much fucked-up shit for that to be acceptable. I don’t care who it is,” he said. “I don’t fuck with people abusing women, and I don’t fuck with people not taking care of their kids.”