Producer: L&X Music
J. Cole: “[I made the song] in my room in my crib in Queens where I stayed at for my last year of college all the way up until I got the deal. That song was made before I even got a record deal. This is after I met Mark Pitts but before I met Jay-Z.
“Everybody had been saying, ‘Man, you need to try some new beats. Try to get on other people’s beats. Don’t limit yourself.’ So, that was the first time I did that. I forced myself to write to it.”
Xavier “X” Smith (of L&X Music): “We got involved with J. Cole before he was actually J. Cole. He went to St. John’s and we met through a mutual friend. She was like, ‘My friend does music too. Y’all should meet up.’
“We met up and it was cool vibes. He had a North Carolina accent and swag, but he represented New York as well. At one point, he wasn’t using any music from other producers. He solely did his own music, but he started opening up.
“We showed him music and he showed us that he rapped and did beats. We left him with a CD and the ‘In the Morning’ beat was on there. He was in the studio in Manhattan and he went through like 20 tracks in the studio one day and ended up stopping on ‘In The Morning.’ He had forgotten that we did that beat.
“We got a call from him saying, ‘Yo, I think this is your beat. I’m not sure.’ He played it over the phone, and I heard it and said, ‘Yup, that’s definitely our joint.’ At that time, I think he had the hook and one verse. He kept recording to it, finished it up, and sent it to us later that week. This was back in ‘07."
J. Cole: “I still remember riding to the club after I did it and just playing that shit and my homeboy, Ted from Queens. He kept commenting on it.
“You can count on Ted’s tastes because he’s not jaded by the industry shit. He’s just a real fan. He listens to the radio all the time, so you can trust his judgement. It’s not biased. When he heard it, he was like, ‘This shit is hard.’ He really meant it.
“I met Drake in L.A. through Chase N. Cashe. That was during the No I.D. sessions, my first time working on the album, like two years ago. But it takes time [to build that relationship]. It ain’t right away. It takes time and now, I can honestly say that he’s my friend.
“Two years later I got a message from Drake like, ‘Yo, man. I just heard ‘In the Morning.’ That shit is retarded.’ I told him I was thinking about redoing it and he said, ‘If you ever redo it, save me a spot.’ Fast forward to Friday Night Lights, I saved him a spot, and he did it.”
Xavier “X” Smith (of L&X Music): “We were a part of that process [of Drake getting on the song]. J. Cole reached out to us [after Drake said he wanted to do it] and asked if we still had the files. I said ‘We sure do.’ I went and got the files, I met J. Cole in the studio that night and we laid it down.”
Leslie “L” Merceron (of L&X Music): “[We remastered it] because the old version was a two-track recording. It wasn’t really tracked out. So when we brought it back to the studio, everything was separated, as far as the piano, the bass, and the drums. We made it what it is.”
Xavier “X” Smith (of L&X Music): “Cole brought the live instrumentation in, and we produced over that as well. We added keys and live bass.”
Leslie “L” Merceron (of L&X Music): “The new production is solely on Drake’s part. When Drake’s part comes in, you hear the little guitar, piano, and the telephone effect on the drums. That part was all new production of the beat.”
J. Cole: “If I do a show anywhere in the United States, as soon as ‘In the Morning’ comes on, it gets the biggest reaction. The label and my management were like, ‘Yo, you’re retarded if you do not put that on the album.’ It’s got more life to it. You have an entire audience that tells you that is the song that moves them, so why not give it to the rest of the world? Same logic as ‘Lights Please.’ How could you deny the rest of the world that song?”