J. Cole Reflects On Being Viewed As A Leader By New Generation Of Rappers 

J. Cole

While he doesn’t view himself as an influence on aspiring rappers, J. Cole understands why he’s perceived to be.

J. Cole opened up about being an inspirational figure to aspiring rappers in a new interview. 

On Tuesday (Mar. 21), ESPN aired an in-depth conversation between J. Cole and Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers. The Dreamville Records co-founder discussed a range of topics during the interview, including the dumbest thing he did as a kid. He also opened up about his role in the rap game.  

When asked how he feels about “being a leader” to aspiring rappers, J. Cole said he doesn’t view himself that way. “It never even enters my mind,” he said before acknowledging that some might perceive him that way.  

“I’m sure there’s someone out there who, in the same way that I did, looked at people that I don’t actually know as a North star and guiding in light to get to where I want to be.” 

He stated his own inspirations from early in his career, including Tupac, Nas, Jay-Z, Kanye, Lil Wayne, and Andre 3000.  

J. Cole continued: “So you know I have these life-changing people who in some way shape or form I was looking at as for guidance. Whether it be creatively musically or like just how I thought they would live in their life. But the truth is, even the kid that out there that maybe views me as a leader, he doesn’t really know how I’m living day to day. He just has to fill in the blanks.” 

Watch the Lead by Example podcast episode at the end of the page.

Eminem On J. Cole’s Influence

It’s not just the new generation of rappers looking to J. Cole for inspiration. In an interview last year, Eminem admitted that he looks to new rappers, including Cole for motivation.  

“My role in today’s hip-hop is to always try to be the best rapper,” Eminem explained during an interview with XXL last September.

He continued, “That’s it. That’s how I want to feel inside. That’s what I want to feel. And I can’t do that until I listen to what the f### J. Cole just put out. What the f### did Kendrick just put out?”  

He added that listening to rappers like Kendrick and J. Cole makes him “get back on my s###.” However, it’s not their numbers or record sales that push him to greatness.  

“At this point, a lot of the big achievements that could come in your career have happened for me already,” Eminem added. “So I don’t hyper-focus on numbers and being on charts. What I hyper-focus on is people like Kendrick Lamar, Joyner Lucas, J. Cole and Big Sean, and watching them and how the f### they’re doing their s###. Because they’re also focused on being the best rappers.”