J. Cole 'Honored' To Be A 'Hottest Breakthrough MC Of 2010' Finalist

'I think I had a fabulous year, and I wanna thank all y'all for the support,' Jay-Z protégé tells MTV News.

He's a Roc rep, so it would be easy for J. Cole to hold his head too high based on the success of Jay-Z, Kanye West and other Roc-A-Fella alumni. But the North Carolina MC is a Southern gentleman, and as the very first artist on Hov's Roc Nation label, he's appreciative of every accolade he has received so far in his young career.

Currently, he's riding high as a top-five finalist for MTV News' "Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010."

"I'm honored to be even nominated up against such stiff competition, and in the end, we'll see who prevails," Cole told MTV News, grinning sheepishly. "No, I'm playing. Shout-out to everybody. I think I had a fabulous year, and I wanna thank all y'all for the support. I was on Jay's album; that was a blessing. I put out The Warm Up; that was a blessing that's still working out for me till this day. Somebody new is finding out about that mixtape every day. And we got the album coming out sounding real special. Real classic, dare I say. And hopefully, you'll feel the same way."

Cole broke onto the scene with his first mixtape, The Come Up, but it wasn't until Jay-Z heard "Lights Please," a number from The Warm Up mixtape, that the St. John's University alum inked his record deal. After that, he made more noise through a series of scene-stealing guest appearances.

Now, Cole is hard at work on his still-untitled debut album, set for an October release and featuring production work by No ID.

MTV News will be rolling out the top-five candidates for "Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010" all week — with the winner being revealed on MTV2's "Sucker Free Summit" on Sunday at noon!