J. Cole: “That shit is retarded. It wasn’t meant to be a dubstep beat but once I added that sound on top, it definitely had a big hint of that. It wasn’t meant to be that way but I can’t deny [it does sound dubstep]. Fucking London and the UK is going to go crazy when they hear that record.
“I just started off with the beat. It started with one or two drum sounds, which led to the next drum sound, which led to another one, which led to the 808, which led to the synth, which led to me just rapping bullshit. I did a reference where I rapped the words. I had referenced the first verse, I didn’t even have the whole first verse finished but I had the hook.
I took it to Jay-Z and Mark Pitts like, ‘Yo, is this worth finishing?’ I knew I liked it but I didn’t know if I had the energy to put into it since we were so close to the album being finished. Jay-Z was like, ‘Yo, you’ve got to finish that.’ - J. Cole
“I had to add one more song [to the album] and I took it to Jay-Z and Mark Pitts like, ‘Yo, is this worth finishing?’ I knew I liked it but I didn’t know if I had the energy to put into it since we were so close to the album being finished. Jay-Z was like, ‘Yo, you’ve got to finish that.’ I went and finished it. I made [that song in the beginning of August]. This is one of the last two songs I did, all in the same week.
“[I had a Bone Thugs sample] on there [where I did the hook to ‘First of The Month’] but they couldn’t clear it. They’re really difficult to clear. I was a Bone Thugs fan in fifth grade and I still remember all their shit back then but it just comes in my head. I actually used that [Bone Thugs sampling] bridge on another song that I’m not using for the album. It just worked perfectly on that song so I just switched out.
“I got the first line on ‘Mr. Nice Watch’ from ‘Cost Me A Lot.’ You can look at it like a sequel to that song. I blatantly took that because of continuation, but I didn’t look at it like how I do ‘Dollar & A Dream II’ and ‘Dollar & A Dream III.’ I just took it because I wasn’t through with that idea yet.
“The song is about going beyond the surface. Yeah, I might wear a nice watch or a nice chain, but you can go deeper than that and find the reasons why I wear it, the reason why this guy might wear it, or the reason why we—as the people—wear the shit.
“On ‘Mr. Nice Watch,’ I start off with a super-stunting line, ‘It cost me a lot, my chain and my watch.’ But the rest of the hook is almost spitting knowledge, ‘They say time is money, but really it’s not/If we ever go broke, then time is all we got.’
We went to mastering on a Monday and right before the last song was done mastering, [the mastering engineer] got a call like, ‘Jay-Z said, ‘Stop the mastering process!’’ I knew right there, ‘Oh, he’s trying to get his verse done.’ - J. Cole
“It’s trying to say that when people say ‘time is money’ it’s not true. Money is nothing compared to time because we can be dead broke and we still have the rest of our lives, but you can have money and the shit can be gone tomorrow. It’s like stunting with intelligence.
“I made ‘Mr. Nice Watch’ in the final hour. Even when I made it, I told myself, ‘Watch, when Jay get on something, its gonna be this.’ I’ve had that feeling because it sounds like it’s a bigger record; it sounds new and it doesn’t sound like shit that’s out. Sure enough, final 10 seconds left on the game clock, Jay hopped on ‘Mr. Nice Watch.’ It was such a moment. His verse was crazy.
“I knew he was going to get on it because he pushed back the mastering process. We went to mastering on a Monday and right before the last song was done mastering, [the mastering engineer] got a call like, ‘Jay-Z said, ‘Stop the mastering process!’’ He extended it a week. I knew right there, ‘Oh, he’s trying to get his verse done.’ He just needed more time.
“At that time, I knew he was going to get on ‘Mr. Nice Watch.’ Me, him, and Mark Pitts had already sat and sequenced the album so I already knew he loved ‘Mr. Nice Watch.’ Right when we left that meeting, I knew that was the one he loved. I had given him the instrumental and all that.”
Mark Pitts (J. Cole’s Manager): “My favorite record [on the album is] ‘Mr. Nice Watch.’ It’s ridiculous. I’m proud of him. It’s ridiculous in what he’s spitting and his confidence. It’s just right. He’s very fitting on the record and his confidence on it is dope to me. The track is hot. He’s growing as a producer.”