J. Cole
4.15.2017

J. Cole Confirms Child, Talks Fame & ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ Special

J. Cole breaks his silence.

Notorious for shunning interviews, the platinum-selling rapper spoke with The New York Times ahead of his HBO documentary, J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only.

After much speculation, the Dreamville boss finally confirms that he and his wife Melissa Heholt, whom he secretly wed, have a child together. However, he doesn’t reveal the baby’s name or gender. Cole rapped about having a daughter on “She’s Mine, Pt. 1” and “She’s Mine, Pt. 2” off 4 Your Eyez Only.

The article also claims that Cole now has control of his master recordings, but it doesn’t explain whether that includes past material or only his latest offering.

Beyond these tidbits, the introspective rapper shares his thoughts on why he’s walked away from certain aspects of fame. “The other side, it’s what we grow up believing that we need and want. It’s everybody’s dream,” he says. “Who doesn’t want the pick of the litter on this, that and the third? Money, women, cars. And beyond all of that — which I really wasn’t into — praise…It’s addictive. To recognize it, it was the first step. I had to recognize, well, where’s the fear coming from?”

This came after not being fulfilled by his early hits or his early success. “Any reasonable person would be ecstatic,” he said. “I didn’t have that feeling.”

He also became disillusioned with competition. “That speaks to the state of us as a people,” he explained. “For so long my mind state was, I have to show how much better than the next man I am through these bars. Who’s the best? Let me prove it. And it’s just like, damn, I’m really feeding into a cycle of keeping black people down, I’m really feeding into that.”

“Trying to prove that I could do something that they don’t think I can, it was a very sad place when I look back,” he added. So, Cole decided to go another route with his music. “I understand that what I’m doing is what I don’t see, is what I would like to see being done but is not being done,” he said.

Part of that came in the platinum-selling 4 Your Eyez Only, a fictional album told through the perspective of others, including friends he grew up with. “The people that I know that live that life and come from that life, or even used to live that life, there’s so much more than that,” he said. “They have multiple sides, and the side that is the strongest is love.” So, he says his goal with that LP was “to humanize the people that have been villainized in the media.”

His documentary’s goal is similar, in some ways. “I felt like it would be mad powerful for black people to see black people talking to each other. And you see a rapper who’s considered one of the biggest in the game, just listening,” he said. “See how human they are, and see black men walk around with their daughters, and get a whole different perspective…If I’m listening, why can’t you listen?”

The hour-long J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only special, which airs tonight at 10 p.m. on HBO, features J. Cole music videos interspersed between travels through American cities and conversations with locals about race, resilience, and more.