J.Cole is truly a man of mystery, usually leaving it up to the lyrics to do the talking, when it comes to both his personal and professional life. However, this time when Cole put pen to paper (metaphorically most likely) it was to compose a letter rather than a song.
In “The Audacity” penned for the Player’s Tribune, Cole takes us on a journey of his life and career, taking us on a tour of his past.
Cole started off the piece with a flashback, taking us back to his college days, recalling a particular memory of an early morning in his sophomore year, the alarm went off, it was time for his second round of basketball tryouts at St. John’s University. After making it past day one, the self proclaimed “late bloomer” was laying in bed contemplating and envisioning his entire future with basketball stardom as the mission. But that wasn’t all Cole aspired for, “there was a different mountain that I promised myself I would climb. A mountain just as steep and just as easy to fall from. A mountain that took even more delusion to believe that it could be climbed in the first place. I came to New York to be a rap legend.”
Cole found himself at crossroads, ultimately, we know the path he chose, he never did make it to the second round of basketball tryouts, he chose a different mountain to climb, to become a rap legend.
As the letter goes on Cole recalls the early days of his career after being signed. Claiming “2015 was the first time in my career that I felt I could actually take a moment to catch my breath. It was a year after the release of 2014 Forest Hills Drive, my fifth full-length project since 2009 and my third commercial release.” Even after reaching a momental point in achieving his chosen goal Cole had his mind still firmly planted in both worlds. “If I can blow up in the next three years, that means I’ll only be 27. That still might give me enough time to train and pursue a professional basketball career. I’ll work hard enough to go play overseas and then try to work my way to the NBA. I smiled at the possibility. Still holding on.”
Part of Cole’s journey to greatness was to learn how to work with others. It’s no secret that Cole is the type of artist that prefers to work alone. If for some reason it wasn’t that obvious to you, just take a look at his lack of features, which up until very recently, were non-existent. In the editorial, the rapper explained that his intense competitive nature combined with his inner lack of confidence stopped him from making friends in the music industry. "The first thing that rushed to my mind was the missed opportunity of community," Cole wrote when describing a conversation he had with himself. "A combination of a competitive ego mixed with a deep fear of rejection had kept me from collaborating with peers that I respected all of these years and prevented me from building real friendships with them. I had spent my career closed off. I didn’t want that to be the case forever.”
As the year’s pass Cole’s private ways are slowly being shed, but as always he remains most comfortable sharing through his music. On the 2019 Revenge Of The Dreamers III compilation, Cole dropped the news of expecting his second child, “She gave me the gift of my son, and plus we got one on the way.”
As his personal exposé came to a close, Cole reflected on the time that had passed since his 2016 release 4 Your Eyez Only, focusing on his growth as both a rapper and a person, “Four years have passed. In that time I’ve been blessed with two sons, learned the delicate art of balance between parenthood and career, had the pleasure of working with a ton of talented artists as a featured rapper, spent 10 magical days recording a Dreamville album in Atlanta, and put a lot of time and energy into sharpening my sword and growing as an artist.”
Cole continued on alluding to thoughts of retirement as he still has slightly delusional basketball dreams, however before all that, his first plan of action is to accomplish his initial goal. “A long term plan of becoming the best rapper I could possibly be before hanging up my jersey, leaving nothing on the table when all was said and done," he wrote. "The seeds for 'The Fall Off' were planted.”