If you haven’t noticed, J. Cole rarely speaks these days, letting his music and documentaries do all the talking for him. However, somebody has to promote his albums so often it’s his right-hand man, the President of Dreamville Records and Cole’s manager Ibrahim ‘Ib’ Hamad who does the talking to the media.
So IB talked with Billboard about Cole’s new album 4 Your Eyez Only, the “Platinum With No Features” internet meme, his ability to craft songs that so many of his fans find relatable and much more. One topic that’s bound to come up in just about any discussion about Eyez is the track Deja Vu, Cole’s first ever Billboard Top 10 record, and its similarity to Bryson Tiller’s “Exchange,” a hit in it’s own right. For that, Ibrahim had a simple, but still curious explanation — they made the song first.
“We had already made “Deja Vu,” like that song was literally made for his last album [2014 Forest Hills Drive] and we just knew it would fit better because of the story he wanted to tell on the album,” he said. Ibrahim also said there was no hesitation in placing “Deja Vu” on Eyez because Cole and his camp felt “Deja Vu and “Exchange” were “two totally different songs.”
“To Cole, it don’t matter,” said Ibrahim. “He’s not competing with Bryson. What Bryson’s song did was incredible, and to Cole, it was like, ‘It’s a part of the story I want to tell, so I’m gonna use [the beat].'”
Ibahim also goes on to say he and Cole were unaware of the controversy between each song’s producers, all they knew was both songs sampled K.P. & Envyi’s “Swing My Way” similarly, basically making them “basically the same beat” but they were going to use their version regardless.
“10 years from now, nobody’s gonna be like, ‘Oh, Cole and Bryson used the same beat,'” Ibahim said. “They’re gonna enjoy those songs, you know? Those songs are gonna age, and people will connect to it differently.”
It’s kind of flimsy logic, because much of the narrative surrounding the song is the fact that the used the same beat, evidenced by him being asked about it in this interview in the first place. Still, Cole’s fans are eating the song up, flaws and all, just like they are with the album as a whole.