Noname on Her 'Spirited Debate' With J. Cole: 'We Both Could've Done Better'

The Chicago-born rapper told Complex she and Cole have remained on good terms years after their viral back-and-forth.

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Noname insists there’s nothing but love between her and J. Cole.

A couple months after unleashing her Sundial project, the multi-hyphenate sat down with Complex's Jordan Rose to discuss a wide range of topics, including her and Cole’s “spirited debate” involving the 2020 George Floyd protests.

“I wouldn’t say he was necessarily wrong,” she said. “I think we both could have went about it in a better way, but I love how you called it 'a spirited debate' because it really wasn’t like a diss. It was like, ‘I have an ideological disagreeance with you. I’m gonna write about it on a song.’ It's like come on, we grown as hell, we both could have done better.”

Although she expressed some mild regret on how it all went down, Noname admitted that the exchange gave her a lot of publicity.

“But he was, he was rapping—'Snow on tha Bluff,'" she said with a salute. "That n***a fake put me on,” she said with a laugh. “I didn’t get on Trevor Noah until after that shit happened. N***as didn’t know who I was! Nah, but I did get hella followers after that.”


Noname reflects on her back-and-forth with J. Cole and reveals they've been in touch #noname #jcole

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The so-called “drama” began in the summer of 2020 as the Black Lives Matter movement swept the world again. At the time of the demonstrations, Noname took to Twitter to call out other hip-hop figures who claimed to care about racial injustices but remained silent on the George Floyd protests.

“Poor black folks all over the country are putting their bodies on the line in protest for our collective safety and y’all favorite top selling rappers not even willing to put a tweet up,” she wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “N****s whole discographies be about black plight and they no where to be found.”

Cole responded to the message in his “Snow on tha Bluff,” in which he referenced an unnamed woman who wears “her heart on her sleeve.”

“She mad at the celebrities, lowkey I be thinkin’ she talkin’ ‘bout me,” he rapped. “Now I ain’t no dummy to think I’m above criticism/So when I see something that’s valid, I listen/But shit, it’s something about the queen tone that’s botherin’ me.”

The “queen tone” line immediately drew backlash from fans as well as other rappers, including Chance the Rapper and Earl Sweatshirt. Following allegations of “tone policing,” Cole made it clear he “stood by every word of the song,” but made sure to give Noname her flowers. 

“I love and honor her as a leader in these times,” he tweeted. “She has done and is doing the reading and the listening and the learning on the path that she truly believes is the correct one for our people. Meanwhile a n***a like me just be rapping.”

Noname, who responded to Cole in her “Song 33” track, later described the back-and-forth as “petty.” She also revealed that she and Cole spoke after “Snow on tha Bluff” came out.

“He was apologetic and like, ‘The song wasn’t really about you, it was more like, it’s about a type of person on the internet,” Noname recalled Cole telling her. 

So where do the rappers stand today? Well, according to Noname, they’re still on good terms.

“Yeah, I had a block party this past summer and I was hitting him to see if he would be able to pull up on some special guest shit, and he was really, really about it,” she told Complex. “He wasn’t able to because he’s a father with children, but he was down to donate. We have prison chapters for our book club, so he was like, ‘I’m definitely down to support.’ He’s really sweet. We do not have beef, we love Cole over here, it’s a Cole World over here.”

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