J. Cole

J. Cole Talks Grammys, Kids, & Smoking Cigarettes at Age 6

  /  03.21.2023

J. Cole is leading by example.

The reclusive rapper doesn’t do many interviews, but he sat down with Warriors President and General Manager Bob Myers for his ESPN podcast “Lead by Example.” During the hour-long conversation, Cole opened up about a series of topics, including the Grammys, his family, and life lessons he learned at a young age.

He revealed that he was smoking cigarettes when he was six until his older brother told his mother.

“This was literally a life-changing moment,” he recalled. “When she smelled cigarettes on my breath, her face was like, it was heartbroken, it was disbelief, it was like crushed. I remember the look on her face. She was like, ‘You have been smoking.'”

He realized in that moment that he was hurting others. “That was the first time that I became aware that my actions can hurt someone else. Things that I do, my decisions, can hurt somebody else.”

The Dreamville boss also reflected on his Grammy win and what it meant to him. “It was so important to me,” said Cole, who used to have a screensaver of a Grammy on his computer. “Had I won it early on, it would have validated all of those feelings I had for it.”

It wasn’t until 2020 that he finally won his first Grammy for Best Rap Song for his 21 Savage collaboration “A Lot,” which put things into perspective. “After time, it becomes clear that it’s like, oh wait a minute, those things weren’t for you. And then when it actually came, it was like, I’m not in love with this thing anymore.”

Later, the father of two opened up about family and what he wishes for his kids.

“There’s curiosity of what will they become, what will their interests be, but there’s no wish or hope in terms of what it is,” he said. “The thing that I learned at 30, I hope you can learn at 15 or 16… I want you to be able to learn the lessons that could lead you to peace quicker because I know what life is like…to not be living in your peace and your comfort and your confidence.”

Watch the full interview, where Cole also shared his three pillars of success and revealed why he decided to pursue music over basketball.


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