J. Cole’s 2021 Video Talking About Stripping Away Competition Resurfaces Following Kendrick Apology

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J. Cole’s apology to Kendrick Lamar at the Dreamville Festival shocked me on Sunday (April 7). He gracefully bowed out of a rap battle with the man who said, “It’s just big me.” 

While most are confused by Cole’s decision, others have resurfaced a clip including similar sentiments made by the rap star during a conversation with Kevin Durant on “The ETCs w/ KD” podcast. In May 2021, Cole told KD and co-host Eddie Gonzalez that the competition between him, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar was crucial early on but eventually faded. He related the “Big 3” alignment to basketball, with all competing for the top spot.

“I would assume it’s just like basketball in a sense,” said Cole in the resurfaced clip. “It’s like, man, these are the guys that push you, and you gotta push them. You know what I mean? I’ve never been a reach-out [person], especially because when there’s competition involved … It’s almost like working out together. I guess in the NBA, in the past, that was unheard of. Like, ‘Why would I work out with this n***a? … I’m trying to destroy this n***a.’ That was kind of my mentality early on.”

He continued: “But as I’ve gotten older, I realize … no one is truly my peer or can relate to what’s going on in my life better than these people right here—just in terms of whatever pressures there might be … nobody can really relate to that like these dudes, and I really genuinely fuck with these dudes.”

As expressed on Sunday, Cole is stripping competition from his approach to music and focusing on forming relationships with his rivals. In 2021, he said, “At the end of the day, when I listen to it and when it comes out and I see the talk, that sh*t don’t sit right with my spirit… I don’t wanna be like, ‘Damn, we never kicked it, we never really did nothing.”

In his apology to Kendrick, Cole hoped his longtime friend didn’t harbor legitimate animosity.

“I pray my n***a really didn’t feel no way,” said Cole on Sunday. “And if he did, my n***a, I got my chin out. Take ya best shot. I’ma take that shit on the chin. Do what you do. I’ma take that on the chin like all good.”

As they grew into the best of this generation’s hip-hop artists, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole formed a close bond frequently touring and collaborating together. The subliminal shots from Drake and Kendrick Lamar began in 2013. Kendrick’s verse on “Like That,” a response to Drake and J. Cole’s “First Person Shooter,” made the beef among the three public.

Before the apology, Cole dropped a response to “Like That” with “7 Minute Drill,” featured on his latest EP, Might Delete Later. After the apology, Cole shared that the response track will be removed from streaming platforms.

Cole’s apology received reactions from the biggest names in hip hop, including Suge Knight, Styles P, TDE’s Punch, 50 Cent, and Jermaine Dupri.