2014 Forest Hills Drive is J. Cole‘s biggest-selling album to date and widely considered his best LP. Though the project lost to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly for the 2016 Best Rap Album award at the Grammys that year, Cole doesn’t believe the project needs Grammy validation.
On Tuesday (March 21), ESPN debuted a new interview with the North Carolina rapper on Lead by Example With Bob Myers, where Cole touched on his upbringing, hoops, rap and his goals. During the talk, Cole spoke about finally winning a Grammy Award in 2020 for 21 Savage’s “A Lot.”
“It was so important to me,” J. Cole said of wanting to win a Grammy when he was young. “Had I had won it early on, I think it would have validated all those feelings I had for it. Maybe it would have felt like a championship at that point, I’m not sure. The fact that it didn’t happen and then it didn’t happen and it didn’t happen, it allowed me to reflect.”
“After more time to sit with myself, it becomes clear that those things weren’t for you,” J. Cole continued. “Then, when it actually came, it’s like, I’m not in love with this thing anymore. Not to mention, I won a Grammy with somebody else. It was me as a feature on somebody’s song, it’s not something I did.”
“There was an album that felt like a championship,” Cole, who is 1-16 when it comes to Grammy wins, added. “The making of this album I got called Forest Hills Drive, and the releasing of it and the tour. That was a championship run in a way I would look at how the [Chicago] Bulls look at The Last Dance. That was the feeling. Guess what, that album didn’t win a Grammy. A Grammy didn’t increase my enjoyment or decrease my enjoyment. If that album had won a Grammy, it wouldn’t have changed my experience. The fact that it didn’t win didn’t change my experience. That was what a championship felt like to me.”