A History of Drake and J. Cole’s Musical Relationship
Where would the rap game be without Drake and J. Cole? Both rappers started their major label careers near the dawn of the decade, and both have gone on to become two of the biggest artists the genre has seen. While it'd be easy for these twin titans to engage in a rivalry, Aubrey and Jermaine have forged a friendship and mutual respect that remains ‘til this day.
Drake and Cole formed a brotherhood while establishing themselves on the touring circuit. “Right now, it’s a mutual respect, like 'I see what you’re doing, you’re killing the game, I’m a fan or whatever the case is,'” Cole told Vibe in April 2010. “We’re both young and even though he’s more established and has hits, he still doesn’t have an album out. He still has to prep for that. So, we’re not in the position to be best friends. We can save that for when we’re both laid up and chilling, but right now we both have work to do.”
Over the years, the two have bonded while ascending to the heights of rap greatness as they’ve appeared on a couple of tracks together, shared stages and have been spotted together on multiple occasions. In December, the two rappers were seen kicking it in Los Angeles, sparking rumors that a new collab is afoot. The speculation was recently confirmed by Drizzy on his Assassination Vacation tour.
With the two rappers currently working on new material for the first time in more than half a decade, XXL chronicles Drake and J. Cole’s musical relationship.
On the heels of his breakout mixtapes The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights, J. Cole taps Drake for the single “In the Morning,” which appears on his 2011 debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story. The Gneiss Pictures-directed video is released in February of the following year, featuring footage of the two rappers performing on tour.
J. Cole sells out the Highline Ballroom in New York City and brings out Drake to perform "In the Morning."
Cole's April 2013 EP, Truly Yourz 2, includes the Lauryn Hill-sampling track “Cole Summer,” which finds the N.C. rapper name-dropping Drake two times. “Throwing thousands in the strip club with Drizzy/Difference is I'm throwing four, he's throwing fifty/Lord, forgive me,” he raps, later reflecting on Drake's dominance during the summer months. “Play my position, the whole while still wishin'/A year later Drake put his key in your ignition.”
Shrewd fans noted that Drake similarly rapped over a flipped L-Boogie sample for "Draft Day," which dropped the following year.
Drake and J. Cole visit Best Buy in Manhattan's Union Square on a late-night run and purchase all of the copies of Jermaine’s newly-released Born Sinner album. The total comes to $888.78.
Drake and J. Cole collab on the loose single “Jodeci Freestyle,” produced by Bink! The song sparks controversy due to a Cole line that references autism (“I'm artistic, you niggas is autistic, retarded”). Both rappers issue an apology.
Producer Jake One reveals the beat for J. Cole’s “Mo Money (Interlude)” track off Born Sinner originally belonged to Drake.
"Drake recorded to it and was like ‘This is the shit’ He had recorded to multiple things, so I wasn’t really sure of what he was going to run with. I’m not sure how Cole got that beat, because I wouldn’t have sent it to him, only because I knew that Drake already had it. It’s like first come, first served with me. Drake was sitting with the beat for a while. Probably about a month before Cole had to turn the album in he was like, 'We need to ask Drake if he’s going to use it' [laughs]. Eventually, Drake let Cole get it.”
Drake surprises the crowd during his set at the 2015 Austin City Limits Festival by bringing out J. Cole. “This my brother, man, J. Cole. I promise you,” Drizzy tells those in attendance. “You don’t even meet people like this often. You know, I’ma let you know. This one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known in my life. Anytime I call him, he’s there for me.”
Drake’s Summer Sixteen Tour rolls through New York City, where he plays multiple shows at Madison Square Garden. For one show, he brings out J. Cole, who performs a medley of 2014 Forest Hill Drive tracks.
Video surfaces on social media of J. Cole and Drake riding around L.A. in Cole’s car. "Who would have thunk it, huh?" Drake says in the clip. "In the ghosty, no casper, you hear me? Out here."
The clip is enough to make fans think a new collab is imminent. "Drake [and] J Cole linked up in LA... 2019 music bout to be fire," one Twitter user comments.
Drake tours Europe in Spring 2019, playing multiple shows at London’s 02 Arena. For his show on April 11, Aubrey brings out Jermaine to perform his multiplatinum single, “Middle Child.”
During a pause in the music, Drake confirms he and Cole are working on new music together. “I can't wait to make some new music with you, I know we have been working, I can't wait...,” Drizzy tells Cole.