“Two nights in a row, I watched the live feed. I had already made the song and I was like ‘What am I doing?’ I got a chance to go be in this and feel this. I called everyone of my homeboys and homegirls that I know and I said ‘Yo, do y’all wanna come to Ferguson? I’ll pay for your trip and your hotel.”
Cole did not want to be interviewed.
We know that much because those were the first words out of his mouth. The pride and joy of Fayetteville, North Carolina, and his unannounced appearance in Ferguson became a polarizing topic over the weekend. Yet, aside from his impassioned plea/tribute, “Be Free,” how Cole legitimately felt was unknown.
For the most part, he’s always been a reserved guy; one who has never seemed pressed to make himself the center of attention. So it’s easy to understand why he was initially hesitant to grant Complex an interview during the thick of the Ferguson protests. He didn’t want anything to come off staged. While not the biggest musical star in America, he didn’t want his appearance to overshadow the real issue at hand: finding justice for Michael Brown.
Yet, the decision to press forward with the interview was a golden one. He was unfiltered. He spoke his mind. He wasn’t the least bit concerned with PR-contrived answers. He was himself. He was a young Black male speaking passionately on the pitfalls and evils that tend to follow many of the same who look just like him.
A good chunk of Pac’s greatest interviews came in similar settings: channeling the spirit of Malcolm X/Huey Newton in 1992, commandeering his own Black Watch sit-down in 1993 and outside a New York courtroom in 1994. Cole isn’t Pac and those aren’t this.
Yet, it’s inspiring to see a rapper get in front of a camera and speak from the heart. No holds barred.
Previously: When It Comes To Ferguson, J. Cole Is No B.o.B.