Sixteen tracks weren’t enough for J. Cole to share all of the music he’s been recording over the past couple years, so his June 18 sophomore album Born Sinner includes noteworthy bonus cuts like “New York Times” with 50 Cent. During his visit to “RapFix Live” on Wednesday (June 19), the Roc Nation rapper relived his memorable studio session with Fif.
“That was incredible. The features on this album… a lot of them I was blessed [with],” Cole said, adding that there were no e-mail exchanges involved. “We’re in the day and age where you just send it away and it comes back but I actually recorded with TLC and [50 Cent].
“He just happened to be L.A. and I had that song,” Cole explained. “I’d stolen 50 Cent melodies and was humming it on the hook like, ‘Man, if 50 do this hook, it’ll be so amazing.’ And he came through the studio in L.A., so it was crazy.”
Cole has cemented himself as a talented producer with his work on Born Sinner, Cole World: The Sideline Story and his acclaimed mixtapes, and even 50 recognized that he was on top of his game. “I played him the joint, and when the hook came on, he was like, ‘I could tell you was thinking about me when you did the melodies,’ so he just sat and filled in the words. I got to literally watch 50 Cent sit there and write. It was wild.”
Besides the music that comes out of a studio session with a successful and accomplished artist, there are also the lessons that a young rapper can hold onto forever. In this case, Cole learned that it was necessary to push for perfection, no matter whom he’s working with.
“When I’m in the studio with people, especially with people like TLC and 50, I don’t wanna overstep boundaries,” he said, explaining that he was nervous to give critical suggestions to Fif. “I’m still humble and just lucky to be here so when he was recording, there were creative things I wanted to suggest or say, ‘maybe you can get that one better’— and he was asking me how I feel, but he could tell I was hesitant.”
“And he’s like, ‘No, this is your joint, you have to get it right. You’ve gotta tell me.’ He was very adamant. I’ll never forget that. Like it don’t matter who you’re in the studio with — this is your product. I thought that was ill that he could sense I was tryna be respectful and was just like, ‘nah we gon get it right.’