J. Cole shares a story about how before he was signed, Sha Money XL wanted 50 Cent to sign him.
J. Cole collaborated with 50 Cent this past year for "New York Times," a bonus track on Born Sinner. This was our first taste of a 50 x Cole collaboration, but what would it have been like if Cole and Fif were frequent collaborators? In a new interview with VIBE, the rapper talks about how Sha Money XL had tried to get 50 to sign J. Cole before Cole went with Roc Nation.
Cole tells an interesting story about how Sha had played his shit for 50 Cent, before he was signed, when his name had just started circulating the music industry. The story goes that Fif wasn't sure about Cole, saying, "I don’t know, man. Is he one of these skinny jeans niggas?" Read excerpts from the interview below.
Sha Money XL told me once that he brought you to 50 Cent before you signed with Roc Nation. What do you remember about first meeting him?
I didn’t meet 50 when Sha was trying to introduce me, but there’s a crazy story. I was unsigned and my name was starting to get around the industry. I took a meeting with Paul Rosenberg and a meeting with Mark Pitts, but my stuff hadn’t got to Jay Z yet. Nobody was making a move. “Lights Please” and “Lost Ones” were making their rounds, but it wasn’t no real action yet. I ended up in Connecticut at 50’s crib and he wasn’t home that night but people was still in his crib.
Were Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks around?
Yayo, Sha Money and a couple other people were there, but Banks wasn’t that night. Yayo was going nuts, like, “Son!” When I see Tony Yayo today we still talk about that. It was a crazy night. After that, Sha Money was trying to fuck with me heavy. He was like “Son, look, I’m playing 50 your shit.” Supposedly the story is that he played 50 my shit and 50 wasn’t sure. Like, “I don’t know, man. Is he one of these skinny jeans niggas?” He couldn’t see it, but it was a good time in my life. It was brand new, fresh. Being in that crib was amazing.
Fast forward five years and you feature 50 on “New York Times,” off of Truly Yours 3. How did that track come about?
I made that song and didn’t write the hook, I just did the melody. On the original reference I’m humming the melody, but all I did was steal a 50 Cent melody—some shit I would hear 50 singing. I had that song for a year before the album came out. I was like, “Damn, I’d love to get 50 or Nas on this.” Nas was my original plan but he didn’t get the verse done in time. So we had this other kid from Queens named Bas.
Wow, reuniting 50 and Nas could’ve been huge.
Exactly. For hip-hop, period. But really for New York. I wanted that to be a real New York record. This down South nigga coming and putting on for the city because I have a connection. So 50 came to the studio in L.A. to lay the verse and he heard the melody and he was like, “I could tell you was thinking about me when you were doing that melody.” He wrote that shit in five minutes, maybe. It was crazy to see that melody that was in my head come to life with the actual person who I wanted to do it. He gave us three hours worth of game that night, just talking.
Were both Nas and 50 aware that they’d both be on the same record?
Yeah. I told 50 that night he laid the hook, “I just want to let you know I want to put Nas on this.” He was like, “Yeah that’s cool.” Then I hit Nas and told him I got this joint with 50 on it, and he was like “Cool.” Nobody had a problem with it. I think that they saw the moment was going to be big. I wish he could’ve gotten that verse done, but my nigga Bas is on that, so it’s all good.