J. Cole was one of the many notable, influential figures that attended the 2020 MLK Now conversation in Harlem, New York on Monday afternoon.

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The rapper participated in a panel discussion with Marshawn Lynch that was moderated by Ryan Coogler. The director asked the men how they felt about their respective industries exploiting young, Black talent.

The question was initially directed to Cole because we’re witnessing a drug addiction crisis within Hip Hop unfold, but as long as these artists are making big bank no one cares about their health or the negative impact of their music.


Coogler asked, “Do you think it’s ethical for companies to sign kids that rap about addiction, to reap benefits off of their music and not get them help?” Cole quipped, “The clear answer is No. The next answer is capitalism. Is capitalism ethical?”

Elsewhere in the conversation, J. Cole talks about the point in his career when he grew tired of rapping about himself. The time, it was after the Forest Hill Drive album, at a time in my life where I was just tired of like, rapping about myself,” he explained. “So much of my art was storytelling from my own perspective. I’d always give you branches of someone else’s perspective but so much of it was like my personal journey, my personal growth, my personal flaws, this, that and the third. And it was a time period when I was like that was not interesting to me.”

Check out a clip below:

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