In a new interview with Steve Lobel on Blurred Culture, North Carolina rapper J. Cole talked about his favorite rappers, notably Jay Z and Tupac. Although he signed to Jay Z's label Roc Nation in 2009, he said the Brooklyn rapper was a mentor of his long before he was signed to the label and that he was able to connect with Tupac's music even at the age of seven.
"Jay was mentor before I ever signed to him," J. Cole told Lobel. "I studied his moves that much...I got to go on tour with him and steal a lot of gems. That's how you supposed to do it. You're supposed to learn and take pieces from the greatest. So, Jay was my mentor before I ever signed to him. And now that I signed to him it's just a blessing to be able to hit him for advice and get that real 20 years of experience or however long he been in the game. It's priceless."
As far Tupac, who he considers his favorite rapper, he said he came across his album 2Pacalypse Now thanks to his stepfather and that before that his favorites ranged from Michael Jackson to Bobby Brown. Despite his age, he said he had an immediate connection with Pac's music.
"My favorite rapper was Pac," he said. "He was my favorite rapper before I even started rapping. Before I even thought of-It went from Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown as a kid and artists like that. Even Kool Moe Dee. Just the cool dude that I looked up to. And then one day my stepfather came home from-I don't know if he was back from Desert Storm...I remember him coming home with that first Pac album. With 'Brenda's Got A Baby.' It was 2Pacalypse Now. And since then-When I was too young to know what he was talking about, but it connected. Cause that's the thing about art. It's just truth. It's straight-Whatever you feel. So, even as a seven-year-old kid, eight-year-old kid I could hear Pac's early albums and feel the truth."
Who is he listening to these days?
"I'm not in tuned," Cole said. "Because I'm not that dude-I'm not that kid that was on the websites checking for new music. I'm not. I've become somebody that's really trying to tap into myself and make something new and something great to give to the people."
The two also talked about the difference between rappers and emcees among other topics.
Watch the full interview below, and let us know what you think in the comments section!