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

"Lost Ones"

Producer: J. Cole

J. Cole: “I’ve been waiting for so long to drop that to the world. I wrote that song in 2007. I held on to it for that long—that’s how special it was to me. We have a video for that that we shot three years ago that I’m going to release. That’s one of the most important songs to me because I’m so proud of it like, ‘Damn, I really did that.’

“[The second verse] is just a clear example of how I write as an artist. That’s a clear example of what I do. When I’m at my best, I try to put myself in the person’s shoes, whoever they are. So, I consciously was like, ‘Yo, how would a female feel?’ I wrote the verse from that perspective, feeling like her, talking from her perspective.

 
[The situation described in the song] didn’t happen to me. But the funny thing is, after I did that song, not that the exact same situation happened to me, but my first ever time some shit like that came close to happening to me. - J. Cole
 

“It’s just dope because it’s talking about a topic that we can all relate to in some kind of way. If you ain’t been through it, you’ve got a friend who’s been through it. I tells the story from both sides. It ain’t just from a male perspective, it’s also from a female perspective. And it’s a third-person perspective that sees both sides. I love that fucking song.

“[The situation described in the song] didn’t happen to me. But the funny thing is, after I did that song, not that the exact same situation happened to me, but my first ever time some shit like that came close to happening to me. But nah, that’s not about me.

“I hate questions [about if the song happened to me] and I’ll probably stop answering them because who cares? The song is what it is. I know people want to know, like, ‘Ah, man. Did that happen to you?’ To me, it’s kind of wack to give it away every time. ‘Oh, yeah. That one’s about me, but this one ain’t.’ The song is what it is. It should affect you how it affects them—whether it was mine or not.

“If Steven Spielberg writes the most incredible movie ever or directs the most incredible movie ever, do you really give a fuck if that happened to him or not? Or are you just so entrenched by the story?

 
People want to know, like, ‘Ah, man. Did that happen to you?’ To me, it’s kind of wack to give it away every time. The song is what it is. It should affect you how it affects them—whether it was mine or not. - J. Cole
 

“First of all, some of this shit be really personal shit people be asking about. Rapping about it should be enough. That’s hard enough to rap about some shit and put it out. When questions start getting personal, I start to feel a certain kind of way.

“Second of all, it affects the way you listen to the song. Now you think about me rather than everything about you. Maybe I’m over-thinking it. That’s just how I feel sometimes. I know I’m going to get a million questions about ‘Breakdown’ that I’m not ready to answer. ‘Lost Ones’ is cool because it actually didn’t happen to me.”

Mark Pitts (J. Cole’s Manager): “I feel like if I was a rapper, I’d have the same point of view as J. Cole. I loved how he was flowing on ‘Lost Ones,’ talking about abortion. He made it seem effortless and it didn’t sound preachy. It was real shit. I felt like that type of shit is how I’d want to talk about it.”

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