By Vanessa Denis, with reporting by Jayson Rodriguez
On November 12, J.Cole, born Jermaine Cole, released his highly-anticipated mixtape Friday Night Lights and garnered significant attention on sites like DatPiff, where he’s nabbed over 120,000 downloads to-date on that site alone. MTV News chatted with the MC about Friday, which earned him a slot on the Mixtape Daily Year-End Awards for one of Top 10 Mixtapes of 2010. RapFix is celebrating the awards with behind-the-scenes interviews featuring North Carolina’s J.Cole, Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. and Illinois’ L.E.P Bogus Boys on the making of their award-winning projects.
“I’m tryna make the best project I can make,” J.Cole said. “Like, pick the best songs and some of those were songs where I really had to bite the bullet and sacrifice and say ‘OK, this won’t go on my album.’ ”
The sacrifice worked in his favor because the 22-track project included a significant amount of depth as well as diversity.
” ’Enchanted’ for instance, I had to fight myself to put that out, because I knew it would make the tape better because that’s an album song,” he said.
On “Enchanted,” J. Cole, a North Carolina native who went on to become a graduate of St. John’s University in New York City, raps about his struggle as a country boy finding hope in the inner city.
“Yeah, this is where the/yeah, this is where the fathers ain’t living/at least not with us/might see ’em round the city and won’t even say wassup,” he spits. “When n—-s play tough, won’t even smile in mirrors/and we learn to f–k hoes off trial and error/Just a small time n—a, big city hustle/glued to the TV, Jigga, Diddy, Russell/These were our heroes, strictly for them zero’s/for that Robert Deniro, n—-s reload on them kilo’s/dodgin’ them people.”
The “Who Dat” rapper says the challenge is, ultimately, growth.
“So I’m tryna figure what songs I was willing to let go of and then make the best story, in terms of sequencing,” said Cole. “It just remind me of when we was putting together The Warm Up, I’m just in a different place now. It was just time for some new music and we put that out there.”
J.Cole’s Friday Night Lights made the MTV News Mixtape Daily Year-End Awards, winning a slot on the top 10 mixtapes of 2010. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Did we miss anything? Share your picks for the best mixtapes of 2010 by tweeting us at @MTVRapFix or leave us a comment below!
For other artists featured in Mixtape Daily, check out Mixtape Daily Headlines.