J. Cole is one of the most successful rappers of this decade, and the numbers don’t lie: All five of his albums have gone No. 1, and each one has been certified platinum. Notably, his three most recent records earned that distinction despite the lack of featured artists. As music fans know, that has come to define Cole’s career: “J. Cole Went Platinum With No Features” is a certified meme, and although Cole himself used to think the gag was pretty funny, it appears he’s getting a bit tired of it now.
In a newly published cover story from GQ, Cole addresses the meme, and says that while it used to entertain him, it’s “almost embarrassing now”: “I was loving it. I was like, ‘Word up, this is funny as hell.’ But the second or third time, I was like, ‘All right, it’s almost embarrassing now.’ Like, ‘All right, man, y’all gonna make me put a feature on the album just so this sh*t can stop.'”
On that note, he also said that he could eventually regret missing out on collaborative opportunities, saying, “I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m like, ‘How long am I gonna be doing this for?’ I’m starting to realize like, oh sh*t… let’s say I stopped this year. I would feel like I missed out on certain experiences, you know? Working with certain artists, being more collaborative, making more friends out of peers, making certain memories that I feel like if I don’t, I’m gonna regret it one day.”
Cole also talked about not winning the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2012, saying that in retrospect, he’s thankful that he didn’t: “It would’ve been disastrous for me, because subconsciously it would’ve been sending me a signal of like, ‘Okay, I am supposed to be this guy.’ But I would’ve been the dude that had that one great album and then fizzled out.”
Read the full cover story here.