Tony Yayo maintains he was an early believer in J. Cole, and even brought him to 50 Cent, before Jay-Z had the opportunity to sign the Fayetteville native.  

In a new interview with VladTV, Yayo claimed he was early on a number of artists, including Max BFrench Montana, Danny Brown, and Nicki Minaj. “That’s one of my talents is finding the next ones, it’s easy,” he said around the 2 minute mark of the video above. The former G-Unit member recalled going to 50’s home in Connecticut with Cole, where he played “Simba,” off The Come Up Mixtape, Vol. 1.  

Back in 2015, Yayo posted a photo of himself and Cole, reiterating some of the same details that were brought up in the VladTV interview up top. 

Cole spoke about the visit to 50 Cent’s home in a 2013 interview with Vibe, crediting former G-Unit Records president Sha Money XL with trying to orchestrate a meeting between them. He remembered “Lights Please” and “Lost Ones” being out at the time, but neither song had really piqued anyone’s interest. 

Cole said Sha Money XL, Yayo, and a few others, except for 50, were there when he went to his home. “Yayo was going nuts, like, ‘Son!’ When I see Tony Yayo today we still talk about that,” he recalled. “It was a crazy night.” Sha Money was determined to play Cole’s music for 50 Cent, and from what he heard, the mogul wasn’t won over by what he heard. 

“Supposedly the story is that he played 50 my shit and 50 wasn’t sure,” Cole said. “Like, ‘I don’t know, man. Is he one of these skinny jeans n****s?’ He couldn’t see it, but it was a good time in my life. It was brand new, fresh. Being in that crib was amazing.”