It’s not every day you hear someone smoking cigarettes at age six, but of course, J. Cole is an anomaly. 

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Today, ESPN unveiled a new interview where the North Carolina rapper sat down with Bob Myers for an in-depth conversation on the Lead By Example podcast, chatting about his upbringing, thriving rap career, and future plans. Myers serves as the GM for the Golden State Warriors.

J. Cole has historically not partaken in any drinking or smoking activities, which is every reason why fans may be shocked to hear Cole started smoking cigarettes at the young age of six years old.


“At six years old, I was smoking cigarettes, regularly around the neighborhood. The thing was, my brother’s almost four years older than me. I was always hanging around the older kids in the neighborhood that he was hanging around. And they were smoking. I was young and fearless, trying to be cool.”

The “No Role Modelz” artist explained how his mom didn’t know he was smoking, especially given the fact she comes from a huge family raised in a small town. But the smoking habit didn’t last long once Cole’s brother told on him.

“This was literally a life-changing moment,” Cole remembers. “To them, it’s funny. They’re 10 themselves, so it’s funny for them to see. Nobody’s really worried about me: ‘hey don’t do that’. They’re 10 and smoking cigarettes. I’m smoking with these older kids, this is going on for two to three weeks.”

He continues, “One day, I’m down the street at a house where it was happening at. My brother comes up and I asked one of our homeboys in the neighborhood, ‘You got any cigarettes?’ I’m six, trying to be cool.”

Cole goes on to explain his brother’s response: “I’m telling mom!” Proceeding to walk home to tell her. But Cole being six years old, his game plan was to just deny everything.

Upon going home, Cole had to face his mom who bent over to smell his breath.

“This was the life-changing moment right here, because I saw her face. When she smelled cigarettes on my breath, her face was like… it was heartbroken. It was disbelief, it was crushed. I remember the look on her face. She was like, ‘You have been smoking!’ It hit her, that her baby who’s six, a) is capable of smoking cigarettes. And b) capable of lying dead to her face about it.”

Cole explains how he later received a whipping from his mother, but it was the look on her face that he only can recall. The life-changing moment came when he realized how his actions can affect other people.

About The Author

Shirley Ju is a Journalist & On-Camera Host based in Los Angeles. she's been writing and interviewing artists in the entertainment industry for over 12 years. she started her own show called Shirley's Temple, with a focus on mental health. Shirley lives, breathes, and sleeps music, and if there’s a show in LA, you can find her there. Born in the Bay Area, the Hyphy movement is in her blood. Follow her at @shirju on both Instagram and Twitter.

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