When J. Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive leaked online earlier this month, one of the first songs people were talking about was "Fire Squad," where Cole name checks Eminem in a lyric about shifting musical and cultural landscapes that also references Justin Timberlake, Iggy Azalea and Macklemore.
While some have wondered if Em will take offense or respond, the Detroit rapper's friend and Bad Meets Evil partner-in-rhyme Royce da 5'9" says he feels like it was "blown out of proportion."
"It sounded to me like an observation -- an observation of an artist being vocal with something he's observing," Royce told VladTV, adding that though he hadn't fully listened to the album, he bought it and planned to study it in the way he had studied past releases from the North Carolina native.
In an interview earlier this month, Cole stressed just that -- that his lyric was an observation, and not a diss.
“It’s silly how big of an Eminem fan I am,” he told Angie Martinez. “There’s a very select group of top notch people that I worship; Eminem was literally at the top of that list. My first song [sounds] like an Eminem bite. If you think I’m dissing Eminem, I know you just read the headline and you’re not listening to the song.”
Still, Royce, whose new album, PRhyme, dropped earlier this month, did acknowledge that some could take offense -- though he hasn't spoken with Em about it.
"He may not have used the best words," he continued. "One could say, 'Why would you throw Em in a certain category?' One could even say, 'Yo, why would you put Em in the same category as Iggy?' You know? Who knows what somebody's gonna get offended by? Us as artists, sometimes we take that risk because what we wanna say we feel is so real. Or we feel like it's something we wanna get off of our chest. Or it's something maybe we wanna express."
"Sometimes, you may do that at the risk of somebody getting offended -- not to say Marshall was offended by anything J. Cole said. I haven't spoke to Marshall about the song at all. If there was to be some offense taken, I could see why. Did I listen to it and get offended by it? No. Also, did I feel like he was trying to diss my guy? Absolutely not. If there was some offense taken or if there's anything that leaves any kind of question or doubt as to what whether he meant something by it, then maybe an apology may be in order. But that's not for me to decide."