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J. Cole Has Some Seriously Big Plans For His Dreamville Squad

As North Carolina’s inaugural Dreamville Festival nears, the crew behind the name is front-and-center. The whole squad covered the latest issue of XXL to make it known that it’s their time to shine.

At the helm of Dreamville is none other than J. Cole, who has plans to make his team hip-hop’s No. 1 collective–and it looks like he’s well on his way.

Inside the Spring 2019 issue of XXL, the North Carolina native talks about his dreams of having his own label, his idea of success, and his most memorable guest verses. Check out what the rapper had to say about all that and more down below.

On why it was important for you him to launch Dreamville Records:

This is something I wanted before I was even signed. I had the whole label name: Dreamville. I remember when I came up with it I told R.J., I told Ib[rahim Hamad]. We were walking through Manhattan. I had the concept back then and I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was because that’s how Jay[-Z] did it, how Ruff Ryders did it. Then me being 22, 23 years old saying, “I want to do that, too.”

On his streak of guest verses in 2018:

I don’t think it’s at that level, but I had fun. Last year, I set an intention to say yes way more than I say no. Say yes to features. Step outside of my comfort zone. And it’s still going. I’m trying to level up this year on the features. Last year was like a preview. I don’t want to be done with rap years from now and look back like, Damn, I didn’t even work with nobody. I don’t want to have no regrets. The year that I’m going to have is all coming from a place of when this shit is all said and done, I want to know that I left no stone unturned. I f**king did everything I wanted to do. Even s**t I didn’t want to do but ended up being glad that I did it in the end. The BET Awards performance—I did not want to do that at all but it turned out really good. I was happy that I did it. I was kind of dreading it.

On when people started looking at him like a big brother in hip-hop:

Maybe Forest Hills Drive, when I took YG [and] Big Sean on tour. I was touring in amphitheaters—it’s big if you make it to amphitheaters. I found myself a lot of times just listening to artists, asking them the right questions to try to help them find answers for themselves, or give my two cents. I found myself doing that a lot. I look at myself—no bulls**t—as like the middle child, meaning, I’m a big brother to these [younger] dudes and a little brother to these [older] dudes. I still have OGs in the game that are legends, people I still look up to who have been where I am at, who have been at this level for mad long and are still relevant. I don’t think there’s ever been a time in rap where there was three relevant generations like this. It’s stretched. [Jay-Z] had a lot to do with that. So, yes, I feel like an OG to a lot of young rappers. In a good way. I also feel like a little brother to some of these older dudes.

On the healthy competition between Dreamville and TDE:

One hundred percent. They murder the game, honestly. They really set a high bar for a label’s success. We look up to what they did, what Top [Dawg] did. Hell yeah. But of course, we want our time, too. That’s what this year is about, the beginning of that. We’ve been bubbling, we damn-near been underground. We signed Bas in January 2014. That was only five years ago. That was our underground period, and we coming out of that right now…We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for [Bas’] Too High to Riot, [Cozz’s] Cozz & Effect, [Omen’s] Elephant Eyes, Ari [Lennox’s] Pho, Lute’s West1996 Pt.2, [J.I.D’s] The Never Story, EarthGang’s Rags. All of these keep laying the foundation. At a certain point it’s going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. This [rap camp] was a major first step in being pushed to the mainstream. Now, all the clips is loaded with music. It’s not even fair.

Read the rest of what Cole had to say about his team, his career, and plans for the future over at XXL.


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