North Carolina rapper J. Cole now understands the meaning of the saying “all good things come to those who wait.”
Cole, a graduate of St. John’s University in New York, was signed to a deal by Jay-Z four years ago, yet only came out with his debut album — “Cole World: The Sideline Story” — in late September. He released three mixtapes, produced other artists and did quite a bit of touring in the meantime, and hard work paid off with a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200.
Cole, 26, now says the wait “was stressful” but worthwhile. “It taught me a lot about not just patience but (about) working harder,” he says. “It’s not like I just sat around waiting for the album to come out. I was working. I was like, ‘Man, if I’m doing something that’s not working, let me do what works.’
“So ... I’m a better artist because of it. I’m a better performer now because I had to tour so much, and I’m a smarter artist, a better producer because of all that work.”
And, Cole notes, it allowed him to accumulate a body of work and become a known commodity even before “Cole World” came out — “a real foundation” that he hopes will serve him well in the future.
“It’s not that I’m not a hitmaker,” says Cole, who’s currently working a second single — “Can’t Get Enough,” featuring Trey Songz — and is well into making his second album, which he hopes to release in mid-2012. “It’s just that the artistry overpowers that at this point in my career. I’m selling albums right now basically off of fan support and how they view me as an artist more than just having one big radio hit that came out.
“That’s a great place to be. Hopefully it’ll always be that way.”
J. Cole, Drew32, Knewport and DJ Graffiti perform Friday, Oct. 7, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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