On my first day back to Vassar this fall, I was chatting with my advisor about hip hop on the quad under a scorching August sun. He asked me if I had heard of this cat named J. Cole who was starting to get some looks for his new mixtape. I hadn’t (wince) but looked him up that day, downloaded The Warmup and started keeping tabs on him. His rise from that day last summer has been meteoric–his mixtape exploded onto the blogosphere, he was featured on Jay Z’s and Wale’s 2009 releases and was tapped as one of the prestigious Freshman 10 for XXL Magazine. Now, with his debut album set to drop, J. Cole is on a college tour which stopped at Vassar last week to perform at the annual Hip Hop 101 Throwback Jam with Big Daddy Kane. Although rain forced the concert inside and I couldn’t see him perform in the same spot where I first heard about the young rapper months ago, my co-host Hannah Yardley and I got the chance to sit down with J and ask him a few questions before he hit the stage.
–Connor O’Neill, WVKR Hip-Hop Genre Director