J. Cole Opens Up About Lack of Artist Collabs, His Children and NBA Ambitions


| LAST UPDATE 06/01/2022

By Mahlik Campbell
Via Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 01: American hip-hop artist J. Cole performs at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on August 1, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

J. Cole is keeping it real about his career regrets and ambitions, as well as his budding family life. 👀

When J. Cole's third album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, achieved platinum status, you may remember how this meme-like catchphrase bubbled across social media: "But J. Cole went platinum with no features."

In a new editorial piece for The Players' Tribune written by Cole himself, the 35-year-old rapper reveals how "a competitive ego mixed with a deep fear of rejection had kept me from collaborating with peers that I respected all of these years."

Recalling a deep conversation he had with himself, he confessed, "the first thing that rushed to my mind was the missed opportunity of community." This feeling led him to launch the free-for-all Atlanta sessions that would later turn into Revenge of the Dreamers III ​and make songs with artists like Gang Starr and Young Thug. 

Later in the essay, Cole also revealed that he's "been blessed with two sons" from his longtime girlfriend and wife of close to five years, Melissa. He welcomed his first child soon after he finished recording his 2016 album, 4 Your Eyez Only.

Via Jordan Jimenez/Nice Kicks

But outside of music, basketball is Cole's biggest passion. Before moving back to his college apartment in Queens to find "the fire" for 4 Your Eyez Only, Cole was spending most of his time playing basketball with the dream of hooping professionally.

In fact, when he signed his first record deal with JAY-Z in 2009, he was still doing "mental math" on his career to give himself enough time to "blow up" and then train for the NBA. He later realized that he was "at best, a Lifetime Fitness All-Star." 

Just a few hours after this story was published, Cole announced he'd be dropping two new singles, "The Climb Back" and "Lion King on Ice," on Wednesday night. He's credited as a producer on both songs, while the latter also features T-Minus and his fellow Carolinian Jetsonmade.

"No date for the album yet, taking my time, still finishing," he tweeted, referring to his next album, The Fall Off. Let's go!