Jake One Blesses J. Cole With the Beat for ‘My Life’
Interview: Kemet High
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
Jake One’s veteran production prowess has helped J. Cole’s “my . life” featuring 21 Savage and Morray rise as the No. 2 song in the country on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Here, the 45-year-old Seattle native, nicknamed Snare Jordan, speaks with XXL about his contributions to the highest-charting single of Cole’s career, collaborating with new school artists like G Herbo and Cordae, plus more.
XXL: Talk about how you ended up contributing to the “my . life” beat.
Jake One: I worked with Cole on album two [Born Sinner], but it was a while ago... That particular beat was in a batch that I made. And he immediately was just like, “Yeah, this is special”... I sent him the files and he ended up changing the drums. The drums I did were initially more hip-hoppy, more traditional. He put the 808s in there and then he had Kelvin Wooten [Wu10] play some stuff on it... I definitely made the foundation of it, but he really produced the record and made it great.
Cordae told XXL that he’s been working with you for his sophomore album. What can fans expect?
Yeah, man, he sent me one really great record that we did together. I connected with him through a producer he works with a lot named Kid Culture, who’s from the Seattle area...We got a banger. I’ve only heard the one, so I can’t speak on the others. But yeah, I’ve been playing that record a lot, so I’m excited for that.
What are the five beats you made that you are most proud of?
I’ll start with De La Soul, “Rock Co.Kane Flow” featuring MF Doom. That one kind of started it all for me and got my name out there. “Furthest Thing” by Drake is up there. Rick Ross’ “3 Kings” featuring Dr. Dre and Jay-Z is another one. It was a big milestone at the time. Rick Ross’ “Money Dance” featuring The-Dream is probably my favorite out of all of the ones I’ve done. And Nipsey Hussle’s “Loaded Bases” featuring CeeLo Green.
Do you have a favorite artist that you like to record with?
Recently, I’ve been working a lot with Larry June out of the Bay and I really like what he’s doing on the records I’ve sent him… I did one for G Herbo recently and kind of got him on a hip-hop beat ["Loyalty"]. People would not expect that. That’s the thing that gets me going. Even somehow making a hit record with J. Cole out of a rare sample and it’s just not the traditional thing of what’s happening right now. So, it’s always cool to go against the grain and win with your core identity.
Check out more from XXL’s Summer 2021 issue including our Freshman Class cover interviews with 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Flo Milli, Morray, Rubi Rose, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, producer Nick Mira's thoughts on producing the beats for the Freshman Class, an in-depth conversation with Ski Mask The Slump God about his comeback this year, Moneybagg Yo's candid discussion about his new music, family and indie label, a look at what the 2020 XXL Freshman Class has been up to since last year, Doin' Lines with Jack Harlow, Lil Tecca on what to expect from his We Love You Tecca 2 album, music video director Cole Bennett gives an inside look at his Lyrical Lemonade empire, Cordae talks about his upcoming album, 10 in-demand hip-hop jewelers' stories of creating rap stars' icy works of art, music executive Shawn "Tubby" Holiday's advice for artists, Kash Doll talks about her upcoming role in the Black Mafia Family series, singer Mahalia details being a Cam'ron fan, and more.