The Making of J. Cole's "Cole World: The Sideline Story"

"Breakdown"

Producer: J. Cole

J. Cole: “[The storytelling in my rhymes are] who I am as an artist. I have way more stories that didn’t make the album. I’ve got to blend like that. The first song I ever recorded was a story. It was called ‘The Storm.’

“What I’m saying on that record is exactly how I was feeling at the time. I made that three or four years ago, way before I even had a deal. I wrote the first verse before I even had a beat for it. It was all around the same time.

 
[The story about my father] is a completely true story. I was never scared to talk about myself crying. What you hear in that song is probably the very first time I had ever cried [as a man]. - J. Cole
 

“[The story about my father] is a completely true story. I was never scared to talk about myself crying. I talk about that a lot in my career on my old mixtapes—not that I’m a fuckin’ crybaby because I’m not. I just talk about the standard that it is with men, especially with black men—crying is a no-no. That shit is unheard of.

“What you hear in that song is probably the very first time I had ever cried [as a man]. I like to talk about it because it explores the standard that men got, this unspoken rule about crying. We definitely have those type of rules about how men ain’t supposed to cry.

“My father was cool. We’ve always been cool. There’s people out there with way worse relationships than me with my father, so I’m blessed to even know my father. He’s still alive. The truth is, I didn’t grow up with him. I talk to him at least every few months which is great. This is actually incredible because of the fathers in the world.

 
No way do I want people to think that me and my father have a bad relationship. A lot of people have worse father situations, but guess what? That song is for all of them, too. - J. Cole
 

“As I got older, I started to realize, like, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t know this guy all the way. I know him but we never really bonded. He don’t know what I like, he can’t give me real advice because he don’t really know me.’ That’s where that was coming from.

“No way do I want people to think that me and my father have a bad relationship. A lot of people have worse father situations, but guess what? That song is for all of them, too. There’s going to be somebody out there that don’t know their father and that have a more distant relationship than me with their father, they’re going to grab it and they’re going to appreciate that song so much.

“[In the second verse], I’m talking about my mom. The third verse is about a girl. That’s not anybody I’m related to, but that’s a real story, too. Everything is either based exactly on my life or, like in the third verse, it was really somebody I know. Everything in that song is true."

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