Published Mar 16, 2012Carolina-raised J. Cole performed a small showcase yesterday (March 15) at SXSW, following a long stint on tour in Europe and to kick off his imminent U.S. tour. The rapper was recently nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, which ultimately went to Bon Iver, but when the camera panned to Cole's reaction at the ceremony he looked genuinely happy for Justin Vernon.
"I can't say I'm a fan or anything exactly, but I like the guy. I really liked the speech he gave," the Jay-Z-discovered rapper tells Exclaim! from SXSW.
Cole goes on to explain that he first heard about Bon Iver through his collaboration with Kanye West. "That's how I first heard of him for sure."
Cole World: The Sideline Story, the rapper's first album proper, was released last year after a several lauded full-length mixtapes. "Yeah, it was two and a half years [for Cole World to arrive]. Mostly because we wanted to work on a single and I wanted to build my reputation, you know," Cole explains. "It wasn't really strategic, though. It just kinda happened that way."
But the album eventually dropped, sales have been high and he's been well received on tour. "Yeah, it's been great. I couldn't be happier," says Cole, and after a recent mammoth tour in the UK and mainland Europe, he's also pretty well known now on the other side of the Atlantic. "We've been all over Europe. We played towns in the UK I never heard of before and in Glasgow too. They know me in Paris now and Germany was great."
So, what's next for J. Cole in 2012? First off, a three-month tour coming up on this side of the Atlantic, then some production work and his second album.
"I'm gonna be doing a bunch of production with a bunch of different people. Some up and coming and some bigger names," Cole says. "I'm not saying who because I before was telling people I was working with Pharrell and these other producers, and then none of those tracks ended up on the album [Cole World]. I learnt a lot last time!
"A lot of the production I can do when I'm on the tour bus, but for the album, I can't. Some people have studios on their bus. I don't know people do that! I can work on ideas, but I gotta wait until the end of the tour to record the album."
So the burning question is can we expect the album this year?
"For sure. I certainly hope so."
On the question of who Cole will be collaborating with, he also remains tight-lipped, saying, "On the first record, I didn't fill it with collaborations because I wanted to prove myself first. I didn't want to rely on that, having this name or that name, but I've done that now, so for the next one we'll see what happens. It depends on the tracks."
For all Cole's currently scheduled tour stops, head here. And watch his new video for "Nobody's Perfect," featuring Missy Elliott, below.