J. Cole
@jcolenc

J. Cole may be first known as Jay-Z's protege but he has emerged from the sideline to become a Billboard chart topper. He was born Jermaine Lamarr Cole on January 28, 1985 in Frankfurt, Germany on to a European American mother and an African American father. He moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina with his mother when his father left the family.


Cole's fascination of rapping started at the age of 14 when J. Money put him in the rap game and his cousin showed him the basics of rhyming and word play. He was an expert in lyrics first before in beats. His mother then bought him a beat machine which helped him to produce his own music. Cole spent the remainder of his teen years posting his music online.

In pursuit of a better chance, he moved to New York City as soon as he graduated from high school. He enrolled in St. John's University on an academic scholarship where he majored in communication and minored in business, graduating with honors. He was working as a bill collector in the city but his passion laid somewhere else. Cole first came up with a mixtape called "The Come Up" in 2007.

With only courage and determination, Cole stood outside Jay-Z's office building for hours to give him his demo tape. But when the big rapper came out, Cole was shunned. But luck came not long before that. He received a text from an associate who told him that he has a business meeting with Jay-Z to attend.

Jay-Z apparently heard his song "Lights Please". Cole was officially the first artist to be signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation. "I got the record deal," Cole recalled, "but I still had to learn and improve as far as being ready to drop an album." He was then featured in his mentor's album "The Blueprint 3" on the track "A Star Is Born." From there, Cole was a known collaborator, working with Wale, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, B.o.B and a lot more.

His first single "Who Dat" appeared on the mixtape "The Warm Up". He supported the album with a college tour in 2010. His third official mixtape "Friday Night Lights" was released in November that year, featuring names like Drake and Wale. He then joined Drake as his supporting act in the Light Dreams and Nightmares UK Tour in early 2011. He went on supporting Tinie Tempah and Rihanna in the next few months ahead.

All the while, Cole was preparing for his first studio album. "All singles done. Album ridiculous. Title Perfect. Music incredible. Thank you for your patience. Let's change the game," he tweeted in May 2011. The album is called "Cole World: The Sideline Story" and was released on September 27, 2011. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 200 in its first week on sale.