Around the time J. Cole's debut mixtape "The Come Up" was released in 2007, 50 Cent explained his choice not to sign the artist. During an appearance on The Breakfast Club on Friday, the Queens native was questioned by Charlamagne Tha God about why he neglected the future Dreamville rapper, who approached his house and played him tracks before creating a career for himself in the late '00s (August 12).
50 stated that he did not believe there was a large enough market at the time for a "conscious" rapper like J. Cole, referencing the popularity of the more neighborhood tunes he and G-Unit were recording.
"That was much too early, bro..."
To me, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar… These artists existed early on when I fell in love with Hip Hop, but it was Talib Kweli, it was Mos Def, it was A Tribe Called Quest, it was Common Sense.”
“As dope as they are, it’s smarter rap, smarter music. The logic is: ‘sit down, be humble.’ We supposed to already know to sit down and be humble. But when they put that there, it’s almost the conscious side of it.”
He added: “I’m like, Yo, it was cool, but I didn’t really know if everybody was ready for it because of how strong they were embracing what we were doing.”
Even while 50 thought Cole's music was "great," he wasn't sure if audiences at the time were "ready" for a more "conscious" rapper. Tony Yayo, a close friend of Fif's, said last month that he was on the verge of signing the Fayetteville native before Jay-Z brought him to Roc Nation. Cole paid them a visit to 50's home in Connecticut, where he played "Simba" from The Come Up, he revealed.
JAY-Z, a former adversary of 50 Cent, capitalized on his squandered opportunity in 2009 by signing J. Cole to his fledgling Roc Nation label. The North Carolina native collaborated with 50 on the song "New York Times," which appeared on his second album Born Sinner in 2013.
Tony Yayo remembered taking a young Cole to 50’s residence where he played him songs from his 2007 mixtape The Come Up during a recent conversation with VladTV.
“I was on J. Cole early,” Yayo said. “When J. Cole was in 50’s crib, he was in the basement playing ‘Simba’ and all that, before he was signed with Jay.”
“TBT Overseas with J. cole it’s crazy he was at @50cent crib playing Simba I knew he was going to blow before Jay signed em,” he wrote in the caption while sharing a photo of him stood next to Cole.
“If the Label let me do the A&r work Cole, DannyBrown, and a couple other mainstream artist would have been on the Unit.”