With his sophomore album Born Sinner due out next week (June 18), J. Cole has been subject to the bright spotlight once again. The rapper recently talked about how critical the spotlight can be, how he embraces his own imperfections, and how he is continually working to better himself as a person.
Cole’s latest single is the TLC-enhanced “Crooked Smile,” and while the rapper really does have a crooked smile, the message of the song is bigger than his own imperfections.
“The song is bigger than just my thing, it’s about everybody’s thing,” he told Hartford, Connec. station Hot 93.7 (a Radio.com station). “Society tries to tell you there’s something about you that makes you inferior to the images they’re trying to put out there. [The song] is really me embracing my [imperfections] and trying to get other people to embrace theirs.”
“Billboard, they gave me the cover, but they tried to airbrush my eyebrows. They tried to Photoshop my eyebrows, but I was like ‘Yo, leave them thick!’,” he joked. “They’re almost connected, I need people to see that.”
Part of embracing imperfections, though, is figuring out what you can change to make yourself a better person, and the rapper said education is one aspect of his past he is looking to improve upon.
“I was a student that got good grades, but I should’ve paid attention more,” Cole admitted. “I was really good at passing a test. I knew what I had to do to get the grade but I didn’t retain [the information]. I would get an A, but I probably couldn’t tell you what was on the test the next week.”
Cole attended St. John’s University, receiving a degree in Communications with a minor in Business. Though he did well at the Queens, N.Y. university, he still has the same regrets as in high school.
“I killed college and got by the same way, but I am even more upset because I really could’ve learned,” he said. “I just did enough to get the good grades. Now as a grown man, there are some things that I should’ve paid more attention to. I wish I would’ve really read that book instead of just going to CliffsNotes.”
Cole is determined to retain more the second time around. After the release of Born Sinner, Cole plans to hit the books one more time.
“I am going back to school,” he said. “I tried to go last year, but I didn’t have the time. I am just looking for the right time.”
Listen to the full interview below.