Don't Sleep: Necessary Notables
Mixtape: Title is under wraps for now
Headliners: J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar
Essential Info: J. Cole quickly earned a rep as a super MC with powers to steal a high-profile collaboration with a single verse. But the North Carolina rapper is also a producer, and before his highly anticipated debut album drops, Cole wants to get behind the boards and play nice with his peers. Hence his recent concoction for Kansas upstart artist XV called "Smallville."
"I sent him some beats," Cole explained of the connection. "This is what I decided as a producer: I'm at zero right now, in terms of my reputation among people. Other than my stuff, the industry really doesn't know that I do this, and they don't really know the beats that I'm sitting on. So instead of waiting on a call from Jay-Z, the call from Nas, like, 'Yo, come [produce] my album' -- which is what I been dreaming about -- I realized, 'I can't sit around waiting on that. I have to go work with the people that I'm feeling now, the peers that I actually respect.' "
Another peer Cole admires is Los Angeles' Kendrick Lamar. The Dr. Dre favorite is also a fave of Cole's, and late last year, the pair put up a video online teasing material they've been working on together. The two called the project "top-secret."
"Me and Kendrick doing a whole ridiculous thing together that's gonna tear up the world," Cole told Sway on "RapFix Live" last week.
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