I’ve always been an underdog. I feel like I beat the odds. J. Cole I feel like this: Whatever is in your path and in your heart you need to do. – J Cole
If you’re a hip-hop fan, J Cole is likely a part of your album collection. This American rapper is one of the most successful artists in the industry, with a net worth of $60 million.
He gained popularity in the early 2010s, creating collaborative tracks with some of the industry’s biggest stars.
After signing with Jay-Zs Roc Nation label, the artist experienced a meteoric rise to fame, selling millions of albums and touring the globe. He has a reputation as one of the hardest-working artists in the rap game. When asked about his thought on the rapper, Drake said, “You’re looking at one of the smartest, greatest, most legendary artists of our generation.”
J Cole: The Facts
|Net Worth:||$60 Million|
|DOB:||January 28, 1985|
|Country of Origin:||United States of America|
|Source of Wealth:||Rapper|
J Cole is one of the new generations of rappers bringing a pop music theme into hip hop. His unique style is what drew the attention of Jay-Z, signing him to his label.
His release of ‘Lights Please,’ took the industry by storm, launching collaborations with top artists like Drake and Future to cement his reputation as one of the top talents in the new era of hip hop, or ‘hip pop,’ music.
J Cole – The Early Years
Born on January 28, 1985, at a US Army base in Frankfurt, West Germany, Jermaine Lamarr Cole is the son of an African-American military veteran and a German Caucasian postal worker. His mother moved the family to Fayetteville, North Carolina, when J Cole and his brother were kids, with the family living in a trailer park.
Jermaine grew up in poverty, with his mother barely managing to make ends meet on her meager salary. Jermaine attended high school at Terry Sanford in North Carolina, where he took an interest in basketball at a young age.
The youth was a talented player, earning a scholarship in his sophomore year after trying out as a walk-on for St. John’s University. He was so gifted on the court that he was one of 10 players earning a call-back. In 2012, Jermaine played for the Eastern NBA All-Star team at the weekend celebrity game.
His mom remarried, and the family moved into a better home during Jermaine’s high school career. However, his stepfather became abusive, and his mother left her new husband to escape the situation, moving the family back into a poor neighborhood.
Cole held several part-time jobs as a teenager, and during this time, he started to teach himself how to rap and produce music. Jermaine graduated high school with a 4.2 GPA, moving the NYC to attend St. John’s University on a scholarship, where he graduated with a 3.8 GPA.
J Cole – Career
J Cole started his rapping career at the tender age of 12, operating out of his bedroom at his family’s modest home in 2014 Forest Hills Drive. His first song ‘Lights, please,’ caught the attention of hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and became the first artist signed to the rapper’s Roc Nation label.
J Cole made such an impression on Jay-Z that he appeared on the rapper’s album, ‘The Blueprint 3’ on ‘A Star Is Born.’ Cole started to gain momentum in the industry, collaborating with top artists like Talib Kweli, Wale, BoB, and Mos Def.
His mixtape ‘The Warm Up’ featured the smash hit single, ‘Who Dat?’ To support the album, Cole toured colleges throughout the US to promote his work in 2010. His third mixtape, ‘Friday Night Lights,’ was released in November 2010, featuring Wale and Drake.
Drake and J Cole developed a working friendship, with the Canadian rapper including Cole on his ‘Light Dreams and Nightmares Tour’ in 2011. He went on to work with Rihanna and Tinie Tempah later in the year.
In June 2013, Cole released ‘Born Sinner,’ featuring the promotional single, ‘Miss America.’ The album was a commercial success, and Harvard invited the rapper to address the student body with the lecture ‘The Next Move: A Conversation With J. Cole.’
The album’s initial release date was pulled forward a week due to Kanye West planning to release his album ‘Yeesus’ In the same week as ‘Born Sinner.’ When questioned about his decision, J Cole said the following in an interview.
“This is art, and I can’t compete against the Kanye West celebrity and the status he’s earned just from being a genius. But I can put my name in the hat and tell you that I think my album is great, and you be the judge, and you decide.”
His album, ‘Born Sinner,’ sold 297,000 copies in the US in its first week, peaking at number two on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was a commercial success, finishing its opening week just 30,000 copies shy of Kanye West’s Yeezus.
By mid-September 2013, ‘Born Sinner’ amassed 599,000 sales in the United States. J Cole released two more singles to support the album: ‘ Forbidden Fruit’ featuring Kendrick Lamar, and ‘Crooked Smile’ featuring TLC. By December 2013, the album has sold 796,000 copies.
J Cole released ‘Be Free’ in August 2015, responding to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown during the Ferguson riots in Missouri. The artist traveled to Ferguson to meet with the family just three days after the shooting.
The artist would go on to perform the track during an appearance on the David Letterman show in December of that year. Shortly afterward, the rapper released his third studio album, ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive,’ on December 9.
The rapper revealed that the album’s title was the address of his childhood home, where he first found his love for hip hop and writing lyrics. In a surprise move, Cole stated the album would receive little promotion.
However, ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ would receive support from four singles, ‘Wet Dreamz,’ ‘Love Yourz,’ Apparently,’ and ‘No Role Modelz.’ Despite the lack of promotion, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 upon release. ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ would sell 353,000 copies in its first week of release.
The rapper announced the ‘Forest Hills Drive Tour’ in February 2015, with the tour supporting his first live album, ‘Forest Hills Drive: Live.’ He recorded the live album during the Fayetteville shows on tour, releasing it on his 31st birthday. The album went platinum in March that year, just weeks after its release.
In December 2016, the live album reached 1.24 million copies sold in the US alone. ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ received the Top Rap Album award at the Billboard Music Awards in 2015 and ‘Album of the Year at the BET Hip Hop Awards.
In November 2016, J Cole performed at Jay Z and Beyoncé’s Rally for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Cleveland, Ohio. The rapper appeared on stage alongside other industry superstars like Chance the Rapper and Big Sean.
In November 2016, Spillage Village released ‘Jermaine’s Interlude,’ ‘Can’t Call It,’ featuring Bas, JID, and EarthGang. A month later, in December, Cole released ‘Everybody Dies’ and ‘False Prophets’ on the iTunes store and independent streaming platforms.
J Cole released his fourth chart-topping album, ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ in 2017, debuting at the top of the Billboard 200, selling 492,000 units. The single, ‘Déjà Vu,’ debuted at number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Cole’s biggest success on the charts to that date. All ten tracks from ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ debuted in the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Cole achieved 12 Hot 100 single entries in a week, with ‘Déjà vu, the first single from the album, released on January 10, 2017. The album was certified gold by the RIAA just two days after its release and went platinum on April 7, 2017.
In June 2020, J Cole released ‘Snow on the Bluff,’ his first single of the year. Like his 2015 track, ‘Be Free,’ ‘Snow on the Bluff’ was another attempt at the rapper capitalizing on the civil unrest perpetrated by the killing of George Floyd. The track was controversial, creating disagreement between the rapper and other artists like ‘Noname.’
Cole released ‘KOD’ in 2020, breaking Drake’s record for streams, receiving 64.5 million downloads on Apple Music and accumulating 36.7 million streams on Spotify in the first 24 hours of its release. The track was J Cole’s biggest commercial success to date, surpassing even Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do’ by 400,000 streams in the first 24 hours after its release.
It was no surprise to see the album debut at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 397,000 album-equivalent units and 174,000 in direct sales. The success of ‘KOD’ made it Cole’s fifth number-one record.
In July 2020, Cole released ‘Lion King on Ice’ and ‘The Climb Back,’ serving as the singles for his album ‘The Fall Off.’
J Cole – Business Ventures and Philanthropy
J Cole runs ‘Dreamville Records’ with Ibrahim Hamad, his former St. John’s University classmate. The duo released music from up-and-coming artists like Bas, Omen, and Cozz. The label also shares its name with Coles non-profit, ‘Dreamville Foundation.’
Cole founded the organization to “bridge the gap between the worlds of opportunity and the urban youth of Fayetteville.” it runs events and programs like essay contests and hosts a reading club.
Dreamville Records released nine albums, with three going platinum. J. Cole also worked in a producer role for top artists like Kendrick Lamar and Janet Jackson, and he’s a minor shareholder in Tidal.
Cole purchased his childhood home through his foundation after it was repossessed in 2014. The rapper reportedly paid $120,000 for the property. The rapper bought the house, intending to turn it into rent-free housing for underprivileged kids and single mothers.
J Cole also hosts the annual ‘Dreamville Festival,’ featuring top artists like 21 Savage, Nelly, and Big Sean. The festival has several stage performances and activities, as well as cultural food stalls and local artwork exhibitions. All benefits from the event go to the Dreamville Foundation and the Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy in Raleigh, North Carolina.
J Cole Quotes
I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think something’s not good enough, and I won’t stop until I feel like I’ve made it. I’m never satisfied.
I’m here to spread a message of hope. Follow your heart. Don’t follow what you’ve been told you’re supposed to do.
I do put a lot of God in my music, but not because I’m super religious. There are a lot of demons in my music, too. I acknowledge both.
I struggled with being a broke college graduate, and while all my friends were getting career jobs, I was working horrible part-time jobs. That’s why now, even when I get tired, I think, ‘This is what I asked for.
I’m a super-duper over-analyzer. You mix that with self-doubt and pressure, and that’s never healthy.
I want people to follow their dreams, yes… but I’m not interested in telling young black kids how to be rappers… I want to show them that there’s so many other paths you can take, besides a rapper or basketball player.
I just feel like, with rappers, there’s so much complacency. It’s like, ‘Oh, I’m a rapper. I’m successful. I make money. That’s all that matters.’ But there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world. Whether or not you’re aware of it, it’s happening.
I met Will Smith twice. I didn’t talk to him for too long but I was trying to let him know that my age group grew up watching him – he was the coolest guy on television and the coolest guy in movies.
I still wanna rap better than everybody else, and I wanna say important things.
The thing about being an artist today is you get to develop right in front of people’s eyes before you even put out an album.