Jay-Z Protege J. Cole Takes Unusual Path to Stardom

"You know, when you first come in the music business ... you come with really wide eyes," Jay-Z told The Associated Press. "That's why, on every single album, I have a new producer or new rapper because I love that new energy. Whatever they do from there is on them, but that new energy and what they had right there is raw and untapped, and pretty much cool."

Cole's debut album for Roc Nation is slated for a spring 2010 release.

Cole is versatile -- his music covers a gamut of topics from abortion to the economy. His music echoes the stories his favorite rapper, Tupac Shakur, once told. Cole, who described his music as a cross between Nas and Andre 3000 of Outkast, is part of a new breed of conscious rappers, who rap about more than the customary cars, clothes and money, which had come to dominate the genre.

In the meantime, Cole is paving his way as the self-described Lebron James of rap.

"Lebron does everything. He can shoot, he can pass, he can handle the ball, he gets rebounds ... That's how I feel, whether its lyrics, or flow or beats. I just feel like I'm a renaissance man, like I'm revolutionizing the game. There's been people who've rapped and produced -- like Kanye -- but I don't feel like on the rapping side there's ever been a producer who can rap as good as I think I can rap," Cole explained.

At Cole's Sept. 12 show hosted by New York University's organization, Gentlemen of Quality, the enabler of Cole's confidence and root of his support system sat in the front row. It is the woman who raised him, his mother Kay Cole.

"She was the one who was always supporting even when she was probably like, deep down inside, 'you know, I'd rather him be a lawyer,' you know, something like that. 'Why don't you go to law school?' She still would always reinforce like, 'well, if this is what you want, then I believe in you.' She's always been like that, ever since I was young. You know, one of those 'you could do whatever you want to do' type moms," Cole said.

Cole is ready to share his music with the world.

"I'm here to spread a message of hope," Cole said. "Follow your heart. Don't follow what you've been told you're supposed to do."

You can read more about J. Cole on his official Web site: http://www.jcolemusic.com/

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