After Tony Yayo revealed that 50 Cent passed on the decision to sign J. Cole to G-Unit back in 2007, the Get Rich Or Die Trying rapper has explained his reasons. During his interview with The Breakfast Club on Friday (Aug. 12), Fif explained he wasn’t sure hip hop at the time was ready for more conscious rappers.
“That was so early bro, this is before…at that point I don’t think we had a lot of representation on the street end, like we were the representation,” he explained at the 32:50 mark.
“To me J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar…these [type of] 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…Common Sense,” he continued. “You know what I’m saying? They really, as dope as they are, it’s smarter rap. Smarter music. The logic, ‘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.”
Cole, however, remembers it differently. The Fayetteville native believes 50 Cent passed on the opportunity to sign him because he thought he was a “skinny jeans” rapper.
“Lights Please’ and ‘Lost Ones’ were making their rounds, but it wasn’t no real action yet,” Cole told VIBE in a 2013 interview. “I ended up in Connecticut at 50’s crib and he wasn’t home that night but people was still in his crib.
“[Tony] Yayo, Sha Money [XL] and a couple other people were there, but [Lloyd] 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.”
He continued: “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 n-ggas?’
“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.”
J. Cole ended up signing with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label in 2009. Since then he has released six Billboard number one albums, with the latest being The Off-Season.
50 Cent and J. Cole eventually worked together on “New York Times,” from the latter’s 2013 sophomore album Born Sinner.
Watch 50 Cent’s full interview with The Breakfast Club below.