J. Cole Details How He Changed His Approach To Competing With Drake And Kendrick Lamar

J. Cole’s The Off-Season is the talk of the music world this weekend. The project is his first solo effort in over three years and everyone is raving about it, from everyday fans to NBA players. And in what’s been a unique press run, at least on Cole’s term, the rapper has shown his face to the media more than some might’ve expected.

From a documentary and a SLAM Magazine cover that also arrived with an interview to an LA Leakers freestyle, it’s clear Cole is not sticking in his cave this time around. Just a little over a day removed from the release of The Off-Season, J. Cole sat down for another interview with Kevin Durant and Eddie Gonzalez on the duo’s podcast, The ETCs.

One highlight of the trio’s nearly 90-minute conversation came when Cole spoke about competing with fellow heavyweight rappers Drake and Kendrick Lamar and how he eventually realized it would be better to dial back his competitive nature.

“I’ve never been a reach-out [person], especially because when there’s competition involved,” he said. “It’s almost like working out together. I guess in the NBA, in the past, that was unheard of. Like, ‘Why would I work out with this n****? … I’m trying to destroy this n****.’ That was kind of my mentality early on.”

He added, “But as I’ve gotten older, I realize … no one is truly my peer or can relate to what’s going on in my life better than these people right here — just in terms of whatever pressures there might be … nobody can really relate to that like these dudes, and I really genuinely f*ck with these dudes.”

At that point, Cole realized he had to “strip competition” from not only his approach to Drake and Kendrick but music altogether. “I also see a time when I’m not doing this. That seems very realistic to me,” he revealed. “And in the time when I’m not doing this, I don’t wanna be like, ‘Damn, we never kicked it, we never really did nothing.’”

You can watch a clip of the interview above and listen to the whole episode, which touches on Cole’s family, basketball, and the new album, here. The Off-Season is out now via Dreamville/Roc Nation. Get it here.