J. Cole — also known as Jermaine Lamarr Cole — has had quite the rap career since he landed a record deal with Jay-Z, per Reuters. He was the first artist to sign with the “Holy Grail” rapper’s Roc Nation label, and it wasn’t without a good story. According to ABC News, Cole camped outside Jay-Z’s office with a mixtape he recorded, hoping that the mogul would listen to it, and give him a recording contract. Instead, Jay-Z was not impressed when Cole shoved the CD in his face as he came out from a recording session. “Man, I don’t want that,” Jay-Z said to him, according to Cole.
After getting rejected, Cole persisted and improved on his craft and eventually impressed Jay-Z, who signed him after hearing his song “Lights Please” in 2009. Since then, Cole has gone on to have several number-one albums, including this year’s “The Off-Season,” which was released on May 14.
The album has songs that touch on his personal experiences, like “Amari.” Find out what the song means below.
J Cole's 'Amari' talks about his upbringing
While J Cole may have realized his dream of becoming a rapper and basketball player, he had to sacrifice a lot to achieve greatness in rap music, as he raps in “Amari.” “Either you gon’ hustle or that n**** Uncle Sam got yo a** re-enlisting / 2-6 murder scene pumping,” Cole raps in the first verse, indicating that he had to work hard as a kid because neither he nor his family had a lot of money. “Twelve comin’, we ain’t seen nothing / Time change, n**** ain’t rumbling no more,” Cole spits, referencing his twelve-hour workdays. The song also mentions his childhood home having cold windows and the fact that he “had to go over and stand by the stove” to keep warm.
Cole makes it clear that he did not enjoy his life before the fame and takes listeners back to that mindset in the chorus. “Plottin’ my escape, this game rot a n****’s faith / Got a couple of M’s hidin’ in the safe / Imagination turned a Honda into Wraith,” Cole raps. But he eventually “popped off and got a bag for it,” and left his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina for new opportunities.
Cole was grateful for taking a chance on himself because he “made it out,” and “it gotta mean something.” And it did mean something; Cole has released several multi-platinum albums, per RIAA, and is one of the most successful rappers in the music industry.
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