Depending on who you ask, there are tons of ways to tell that you have made your mark on the music industry. Being nominated for a Grammy is hands down the biggest- when it comes to the mainstream. This Sunday, millions of award show junkies will be glued to their television sets to watch the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. Among the hip hop and R&B artists up for a title this year are: Jay Z & Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Cee lo, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Dr. Dre, and J. Cole.
When you think back to where these artists have come from, you realize how much a dream and a whole lot of hustle can change your life. In the case of J. Cole, A Dollar and Dream (and a whole lot of grind) took him from being on the HOT 97 Who’s Next Stage to being a Grammy Nominee and having his debut album hit #1 on the Billboard Chart.
A little less than two years ago it was March of 2010; Star is Born was everywhere and Cole’s Source Magazine cover wasn’t far behind. Despite that he was poised to blow up, Cole was far from cocky. When he stepped onto the Who’s Next stage, Cole was not at all shy about expressing his gratitude to his fans or having his “moment.” Even prior to his performance, he was incredibly personable and humble – taking the time to sign an autograph, take a photo, and have a brief conversation with each of the more than 60 people who came to a private pre-show listening session.
J. Cole’s Who’s Next performance is prime example of a tip that not just every artist, but also every individual should follow: go with your gut. During the show, Cole shares with fans the fact that he had been approached about doing a Who’s Next much earlier in August of 2009. He and his team declined on the opportunity because it didn’t feel right at the time. When the show happed in March of 2010 S.O.B’s was packed wall to wall even though it was cold and raining outside. It was one of those nights that Cole will likely never forget.
“Like I told y’ll, this aint just a regular show for me. It aint like I’m doing some random stage, some random college. I waited on this. They wanted to do this sh*t back in August, I said it wasn’t right. I wouldn’t have had a line back in August, so I waited. I appreciate y’ll motha f*****, for not only waiting in the f*cking rain but for coming in this bitch and it’s tight… that’s a win in itself…. I just want to say thank you to each and everyone of y’ll… I can’t really believe this…”
While it is important to sieve every opportunity, it is also important to remember that not every opportunity is right for everyone. What Cole did when he turned down that original offer was assess where he was as an artist. He felt it would have been unrealistic to expect a packed house as a headliner at the time, so he hustled and regrouped, and it paid off with selling out a venue that he used to wait in the rain to get into.
Check out clips of J. Cole’s Who’s Next on HOT 97 TV below.
Remember to stay humble, stay realistic and ALWAYS go with your gut.
Star is Born
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