J. Cole previewed his upcoming sophomore album, Born Sinner with a one-time live stream of the project. By downloading the LISNR app with an iPhone or Android, fans participated in the session at various locations–including Atlanta, London, Boston and Cole’s native Fayetteville, N.C.; with Cole actually hosting the New York City session at the SVA Theater in Chelsea.
Fans and media piled into the venue and were seated in the theater’s main auditorium when Cole appeared. The album’s track listing had been published online the day prior and anticipation for Born Sinner has been climbing since Cole announced that he was pushing the release date up to June 18th to compete with Kanye West‘s highly-anticipated sixth album, Yeezus.
Laid-back and eager to share his latest project, Cole wanted a unique listening experience for his fans. He shared how much he loathes listening parties that are more focused on the party than the listening. The Roc Nation rapper also explained one of Born Sinner‘s most buzz worthy tracks, “Let Nas Down.” The story began with Cole struggling to create a radio hit.
J. Cole revealed that his attempt to convince Roc Nation head, Jay-Z that he could craft a something radio-friendly led to him recording his single “Work Out.” “You never seen a n—a so happy, I knew this was it. I beat the game!” Cole says, recalling how he felt at the time. “I knew that this was going to be a record that was going to instantly blow up–like a Drake joint. I was so happy because I finally had a single.”
“I get a release date. We drop ‘Work Out,’” he continues. “[And] it’s the worst response in the world. It breaks my heart to see it, n—as was killing me.”
“My mentor, No I.D. was calling me [like] ‘Who’s behind this?’” Cole shared, and added that it was No I.D. who told him that one of his childhood heroes was critical of his career moves. “He [was] in the studio with Nas and that n—a was like ‘Why the f–k that n—a make that sh-t? Don’t he know he the one? He was on track.”
Cole says the Queensbridge legend’s words cut deep, because of his admiration for the rapper’s legacy.
“I idolized that dude,” Cole says. “I had his raps written on my wall.”