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J. Cole Talks Hip-Hop, Life Lessons at Harvard University

Rapper J. Cole can now add lecturer to his resume as he spoke with students at Harvard University on Tuesday (Feb. 26). The Roc Nation artist joined the hip-hop discussion, called ‘The Next Move: A Conversation with J. Cole.’

Cole, who graduated magna cum laude at St. John’s University, shared his early musical influences, which included Kool Moe Dee, Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson. As an adult, he listened to Tupac Shakur and, of course, his boss, Jay-Z, among many others.

Hollywood Cole also shared his dreams of one day playing in the NBA but then realizing that he was much better at holding the mic than gripping the basketball. He credits his mom for supporting his dream to rap. “She let me run loose, there wasn’t a big leash on me,” he recalls. “So any idea I would have she would support it.” His mother was so supportive, at the age of 14, she bought him a $1,400 beat machine.

Elsewhere in the discussion, Cole talks about his creative process when writing songs. He tells one anecdote of how his gentrified neighborhood in Brooklyn inspired him to write a song about fear and racism.

It’s an enlightening discussion that provides students insight on how hip-hop intersects with J. Cole’s life.

“Harvard, that was ill,” he tweeted after his lecture. “Lemme stop being cool, THAT S— WAS AMAZING. Thanks.”

Next: 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2013

Watch J. Cole Speak at Harvard University (Part 2)

Watch J. Cole Speak at Harvard University (Part 3)

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