J. Cole Used To Write Verses In 50 Cent’s Basement 

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During a recent appearance on The Danza Project Podcast, Tony Yayo revealed J. Cole nearly signed to G-Unit. While remarking on Fif’s Barclay’s Center show, where the Dreamville founder was a surprise guest, Yayo praised Cole’s simplicity and explained how his perceived lack of disinterest in flashy jewelry contributed to his allure. 

“Y’all don’t think rappers like J. Cole is cool?” Yayo questioned. “Like nobody wants to be them? They don’t gotta wear no jewelry. Like, J. Cole came out to the Barclay’s—It’s funny because he gave me mad props and I remember him being at 50 Cent house in the basement.“

The ‘So Seductive’ rapper went on to detail their attempt to sign J. Cole, recalling how Cole approached him, saying, “Yo, you seen it, you seen it, J. Cole, I need a verse.” He praised J. Cole as one of the finest MCs, admired by all, and emphasized his unpretentious approach to life, from riding bikes in Manhattan to playing basketball at local courts.

This account aligns with 50 Cent’s own admission. During an appearance on The Breakfast Club, 50 Cent explained that he had considered signing J. Cole but believed the world wasn’t quite “ready” for his style of rap at the time.

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“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.”

However, J. Cole remembers the story with a slight twist. In a 2013 interview with VIBE, he recounted his experience visiting 50 Cent’s home in Connecticut, where Yayo and others were present. He recalled that Sha Money XL tried to impress 50 Cent with his music, but 50 wasn’t sure about signing him, wondering if he was a “skinny jeans” rapper. 

“[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?’

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Cole shared that while 50 Cent couldn’t see it then, the experience was a pivotal moment in his early career.

In the end, J. Cole signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label in 2009. His journey eventually led him to collaborate with 50 Cent on “New York Times,” a track from Cole’s 2013 sophomore album “Born Sinner.”

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Recently, J. Cole made a surprise appearance at 50 Cent’s Final Lap worldwide tour at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center. During this appearance, Cole praised 50 Cent’s debut album “Get Rich Or Die Tryin'” as the “best album of all time,” putting it ahead of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

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