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J. Cole pays tribute to Nas at the VIBE Impact Awards

Vibe Magazine's 2nd Annual Pre-GRAMMY Impact Awards
Roc Nation rapper J. Cole may be affiliated with superstar Jay Z, but he’s also made it known that he’s a longtime fan of his boss’ former rival, Nas. Cole re-established his admiration for the famed Queensbridge rhymer this weekend at the 2014 VIBE Impact Awards, where Cole explained how much Nas has meant to him as an artist and as a fan. At the Grammy weekend event, Cole revealed that he was more into West Coast hip-hop in the mid-1990s, until an older friend exposed him to Nas.

A song that especially moved Cole was the 1996 track “I Gave You Power” from Nas’ critically-acclaimed sophomore album It Was Written. “A lightbulb went off and I knew right there that, ‘Oh my God. This n—a’s the greatest,'” J. Cole said about his first time hearing the song. “All the fronting I was doing just came to a cease and I knew that this was something I was so thankful to be aware of.”

“As a rapper, there’s very few greats that I study and I still continue to study and Nas is obviously one of them,” J. Cole said. “I really had his lyrics printed on my wall… I would print these joints out and I would hang them up on my wall and if you’d walk in my room [you’d be like], ‘What is wrong with this kid?’ I’d just be there standing and reading the lyrics. I really wanted to know what it was like to be that good. I was rapping at the time and it was my goal to be that good.”