It’s no secret that rapper J. Cole holds a degree from St. John’s University in New York, but many didn’t know he credits his higher education to helping him in the rap business.
Cole recently sat down with The Wall Street Journal’s Lee Hawkins and talked about how he felt his education affected his relationship with hip-hop, and how he makes the two fuse so well together.
“I’m a communications major, and I took a PR class which I have a publicist team but they’re not the ones who wrote the [autism] letter,” he said. “I was on it before my PR team even called me. Because I recognized it as, ‘Hey, this is something I need to address right now.’ I don’t want to send out the wrong message as a company that I don’t care about [autism]. So the school side of me understands that it’s important to address that. I knew how to address that because of that part of my education.”
As a magna cum laude graduate, the “Power Trip” rapper said his degree gives him one-up on his other rap competition.
“In general, it gave me another life experience, four years of another life experience that other rappers don’t have. My perspective is unique,” he said.
He continued, “I left my city, I left town, I went to another place where I didn’t know anybody. I met kids from all over and developed relationships and I learned so much more and I grew, and there was more experiences over here that are unique to me and a bunch of kids out there that are in school or went to school that the average rap story that we know about, ‘Came from the hood, had to sell drugs,’ I respect those stories because these are my friends too, these are their stories, but I’m bringing something else. And it’s not likely, it’s just my story.”
Cole said he thinks it would have been easier if selling drugs or growing up in the hood was part of his narrative because it seems to be more respected than going to college and furthering one’s education, but growing up, he was respected for having talent and brains.
“[By] being smart, I had friends that looked up to that like, ‘Let me see your report card, yo you smart!’ That’s what they would say. It was almost like, ‘Yo, you didn’t tell me you were smart,’ And then I’d go to the AP classes or the honors classes and it was always a surprise to them,” he said.
The North Carolina native also talked about Trayvon Martin, his album Born Sinner, the Illuminati and more. Check out the entire interview here.