Rumors of a Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole project have lingered for the past 10 years, as insiders have regularly teased the joint effort with vague and sometimes confusing statements. On Wednesday, TDE president Terrence "Punch" Henderson was once again asked about the potential release. And let's just say some fans were ( at least initially) disappointed with his response.
The question arose when Punch announced his plans to release all his records on streaming platforms. One follower replied with, "We want Kendrick," before expanding on his wish: "I wanna put him on a 3 track Ep with @JColeNC coz the world is going through a lot and that alone would make the world so happy."
"That’s never going to happen," Punch responded.
The optimistic fan questioned if Punch was hinting at something bigger than an EP, perhaps a full-length album.
"0 tracks," Punch tweeted back. "Not happening."
A short while later, Punch went back to Twitter to say that the collab project "would" be "great for hip hop." He continued by saying he spoke to both Kendrick and Cole and also backtracked his initial claim that the collab was not going to happen. "Nah I don’t know," he wrote. "It might still happen. I want it to happen."
Nah I don’t know. It might still happen. I want it to happen.— Punch TDE (@iamstillpunch) May 21, 2020
Y’all really want that album still??? Like for real? I think it would great for hip hop. I did my part though. I spoke to both of them. Hit them niggas!— Punch TDE (@iamstillpunch) May 21, 2020
Fans have been calling for a Kendrick-Cole project since 2010, when the former told Vibe he and the Dreamville rapper had "a lot of music. I'ma put it to you that way. It might not be just one song." He fueled speculation in an XXL interview the following year, pretty much confirming a joint project was in the works.
"We don’t have a title or release date yet but J. Cole got like 90 percent of the production so far," Kendrick said. "One of my favorite songs of the project is a song called 'Shock the World,' Cole layed the first verse and set the tone for the whole record. It’s going to shake up a lot of people."
In the following years, fans would continue to hear whispers about the project, but nothing ever came. In 2016, TDE artist Ab-Soul claimed the existence of a Kendrick-Cole album: "They’ve been working on that motherfucker for a while," he said on the Breakfast Club.
Fast-forward to 2017, when Punch tweeted the rumored effort would "probably never" get released. He changed his tune the following day, insisting he was "just playing" and that the project was "coming for sure maybe."
Cole touched on the rumors during a lengthy 2018 interview with Angie Martinez, confirming he and Kendrick had recorded "a few songs," but not enough to make a full album.
"We did a bunch of ideas. Put it like that. It was nothing like, you wouldn’t call it an album," he said. "It’s not like it’s something that’s actively happening. Not because it’s never gonna happen. Just because, like … it’s not right now, and I don’t like teasing or playing the game 'cause this has been going on for a minute."
Cole and Kendrick have dropped a number of collaborative tracks over the years and performed together on stage. For Black Friday 2015, they each released remixes of the other's song: Kendrick reworked "A Tale of 2 Citiez," while Cole took on "Alright." The latter remix concluded with Cole rapping the following lines: "'When you and K.Dot's shit drop?' Bitch never/They can't handle two black n***as this clever."