J. Cole and Lil Yachty had a great time together on the latter's A Safe Place podcast, and had a lot of interesting discussions and debates. Two of these speak to the current state of hip-hop, and how the two different but kindred spirits view their place in it all and where it's headed. Moreover, one of these is the purely artistic expression in the genre, and how industry dynamics and the culture are shifting. Another relates to rap's commercial dominance, particularly in first-week sales. They had a lot to say as two leaders in styles that, although different, can always co-exist. "Do you think rap was in a better space when it was more gangster rap, or is it in a healthier place now with hyperpop and 'mumble rap' being so prevalent?" Lil Yachty asked J. Cole.
"What's you honest opinion on the new generation? What's missing?" he asked. "I can't say it was in a better space because that's my favorite," J. Cole replied. "Bro, I'm a person that I try my best to accept- like you said earlier- accept it for what it is. My favorite era is what I grew up on. I can't put nothing past how I feel and how I felt outside of my own... you know what I mean? I try to push myself to that, but bro, I'm grown, I was listening to that when I was a kid. Now it's new kids that got their new favorites. I wouldn't feel comfortable being like, 'Hell yeah, that s**t was in a better space!' Because I don't feel negatively about this space. I feel like this space is clearing the way for the next space, and the next space.
Lil Yachty Inquires About Hip-Hop's Current Form: Watch
"Do I feel like we in a golden era right now?" J. Cole continued. "No. I can say that, this is not no golden era, you know what I mean? But I feel like that'll turn really soon because of that. There's golden eras, bro. That Future 'March Madness' era, that's a golden era. What was happening with music at that time, him included, Drake at that time, what I was contributing, Kendrick, like, that's a golden era. Now, guess what? I feel like, culturally, we are at the doorstep of another golden era." "How do you feel about first week numbers?" Lil Yachty asked. "They change," Cole answered. "It's not black and white like it used to be. When there were gatekeepers and labels, and that barrier of entry was what it was, it was clear to see what was a success and what was a flop.
J. Cole On First-Week Sales Numbers: Watch
"At that time, bro, [Canibus' first] album was considered a flop," he concluded. "Maybe a hundred, maybe two hundred, but he didn't do twenty, you know what I mean? He did hundreds, and he was a flop. And these sales [now] ain't even based on the amount of people, they based on streams. Like, goddamn, that's hard! I feel like you can do 10 today, 15, 20, and it's not a flop. I don't feel like that applies to today. Of course, you would know better than me, because you're more in it. I think it's just a way to either praise who you like or to s**t on who you don't like. But if you my favorite artist and you did 4,000 in your first week, you think I'm going to be like, 'Man'?" For more on J. Cole and Lil Yachty, stay posted on HNHH.