J. Cole is convinced "cancel culture" should be, well, canceled.
During a recent interview with XXL magazine, the Grammy-nominated rapper spoke about the politically correct movement that calls for the public denouncement of controversial celebrities—specifically those who have been accused or racist, sexist, or abusive behavior. Cole argued that the idea of "canceling" an individual for their wrongdoings is counterproductive, which is why he has embraced and supported problematic artists like 6ix9ine and the late XXXTentacion.
"I understand outrage. So I don't know. If anything, it kind of makes me want to be even more empathetic to people that the world considers to be undesirable," he explained. "Because we live in a world where everybody wants to be so quick to cancel somebody. But at the same time, people condemn the criminal justice system, which is entirely the cancellation system. To me, both of those ideas are f*cked up, like, 'We're throwing you away.' [...] You're looking to punish me—and don't get it twisted, what I did was a punishable offense—but where are you talking about healing me? Where are you going to show me some compassion and some f*cking love?"
Cole went on to say that if he had initially known about X's domestic abuse charges, he would've showed him compassion and steered him toward the direction of healing—something he says X and his alleged victims desperately needed. But make no mistake, Cole isn't suggesting X, or others in similar situations, be let off the hook.
"I'm down for accountability culture. I'm cool with that. Even for myself," he said. "Everyone needs to be accountable. I don't mind if someone got something to say about me or what I said or did. That's all good. But cancel culture? I don't cancel nobody."
Cole's sympathetic nature was also demonstrated in a message he posted shortly after Mac Miller's death. The rapper encouraged other entertainers to reach out to him if they were struggling emotionally and needed to vent.
Cole said he shared the tweet because he knows young, rising rappers are facing a unique set of problems that very few people understand.
"[...] You just got a song that kind of went viral and you've got your first little bit of money from a record deal or your first publishing deal, everything's amazing for however long that goes. Six months. Then shit starts cooling off and you're only f*cking 19, 20 years old," he said. "[...] To everybody in the world, he's so lucky and so blessed. And in his mind, he's f*cking terrified. He's scared that he's about to be irrelevant. Scared the little bit of money that he thought was so much ain't going to last."
He continued: "[The tweet] was just me realizing that and letting it be known, I'm deadass serious, hit my phone. I've done that with people where they just spill they f*cking hearts out. I'll listen and ask the right questions and give any guidance where I can. It's just understanding, bro. People in the game, people in general, we don't do that for each other."
Though Cole has become known for his featureless outputs, the 34-year-old MC secured a slew of guest appearances throughout last year. And it appears he's just getting started. He told XXL he had set out to say "yes" a lot more, and that intends to maintain that energy for the rest of the year. Cole explained he had stepped outside his comfort zone and agreed to things he sometimes dreaded; however, he never walked away with any regrets.
"I don’t want to be done with rap years from now and look back like, Damn, I didn’t even work with nobody," he said when asked about his 2018 features. "[...] The year that I'm going to have is all coming from a place of when this shit is all said and done, I want to know that I left no stone unturned. I f*cking did everything I wanted to do. Even shit I didn’t want to do but ended up being glad that I did it in the end."
Cole said he is now locked in rap mode, and wants to spend more time on his lyrical craft than producing.
"I don't even want to make beats no more unless I'm working with T-Minus and I just want to add some shit or help," he explained. "But, for at least the next month or two, I don't even want to make no beats. I just want to rap. For the first time I've been able to focus on that for the most part."
You can read Cole's full interview at XXL. The rapper also speaks on Dreamville's upcoming compilation album Revenge of the Dreamers III, taking on a "big brother" role in hip-hop, and his label's friendly competition with TDE.
"[TDE] murder the game, honestly. They really set a high bar for a label's success," Cole admitted. "We look up to what they did, what Top [Dawg] did. Hell yeah. But of course, we want our time, too. That's what this year is about, the beginning of that."