Last week, J. Cole surprised fans with the announcement of a new album due out December 9 named 2014 Forest Hills Drive after the last home he lived in as a child in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The release will not be preceded by any singles or videos, though some lucky fans will get to hear the album early at Cole's childhood home.
In a new Complex cover story, Cole gives a tour of 2014 Forest Hills Drive and explains the significance of that home — the place where his rap career began.
"This is the first house I've ever owned in my life," he says to begin the tour. "And it just happens to be the last house I grew up in. Ya'll got to pardon the fact that the crib is empty. The goal and my intention is that some family will get to move into this place very close to rent free, and we'll give them two years. Every two years, a new family will move in. Hopefully by the time they leave, they'll be in a much better position than they were when they came."
He goes on to talk about how it felt when he moved into the home and had his own room for the first time. He takes viewers inside that room, which he recreated to resemble what it looked like when he lived in there.
"When I got my own room, I could do things like zone out to the music I wanted to hear," he explains. "I could do things like rap in front of the mirror and nobody's looking and I don't feel crazy. I could do things like sit in my own thoughts and write my raps. That's when I became more introspective. This is where I started dreaming the dream."
He reminisces about his journey into music in high school and getting to know the local group Bomm Sheltuh, who helped Cole develop his craft.
"This room gave me the audacity to go to New York City to chase this dream. I did all of that and by the grace of god made it happen and got his far. I got father to go but I did all of that just to learn the things I used to think was important, I'm learning weren't what's important. All that sh*t ya'll see on TV, all that jewelry n***as be wearing all the bottles they be poppin', that's all temporary. The love was important. The love I have for the music, the love I have for rapping, the love I had when I made my very first song, that feeling I got, that's what's important. The love that was in this house among my family, my brother, my mother, the people that really love you, that forever, authentic love is in places like this. So that's what buying this house represented for me. It was validation, it was vindication for them foreclosing this place from my mom, and it was also just a symbol for me for what's important. You can't run away from home."
It sounds like Cole has his priorities in line, and it's good to see him giving back to people who are struggling.
Watch the video below, and let us know what you think in the comments section!