*As one of the hardest working young men in hip hop, J. Cole has already earned two number one albums in less that two years and made history with his most recent project “Born Sinner,” which was one of four hip hop albums to top the Billboard charts over four consecutive weeks.
Cole is nominated for Best Hip-Hop Video at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards and shared his musical talents to Ubisoft’s highly anticipated video game “Splinter Cell: Blacklist,” which hit stores this week.
The 28-year-old “Crooked Smile” rapper sat down with BET.com recently to talk about why he endorsed “Splinter Cell: Blacklist” as well as his thoughts on homophobia, racial profiling, and color issues in hip hop.
Tell us about your involvement in Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist video game, which was named best video game of Fall 2013 by XXL?
Basically, they reached out to me. They wanted to use the song “Miss America” for the trailer of the game, which I thought was really cool. When you watch the trailer, it fits perfectly. You get a lot of partnerships that get offered to you but a lot them don’t make sense. This one felt like it made sense because of the connection I had to the game — I actually had played the game — and the song fit so I thought it was dope.
Are there any Black folks in the game — I saw a preview and thought, “Where are the brown people?” [Laughs]
Yeah, trust me, I felt the same way but there is — one of the main characters, the other bad a** other than Sam Fisher, is a Black dude. I’m very conscious of that but this is a culturally diverse game — and the terrorists, they’re not all Middle Eastern, which is great. I hate those games where the bad guys are always Middle Eastern, it’s right into the stereotype, but this game isn’t like that.
You don’t get this far without taking risks. What’s been your biggest creative risk?
Producing all my own songs and refusing to go to the hot producer. That’s the biggest risk I’ve taken so far. Constantly taking that risk by not going to whoever is hot and still be as far as I am. It’s a blessing but it’s also been a huge risk because I’m not using the current hip hop sound. Whoever does the beats for people; I didn’t go run to them. Of course I will now because I want to now, I’m tired of having to make the beats from scratch. Up to this point, that’s been my biggest risk I’ve taken, deciding to do it all on my own, production wise.
You’ve talked about including dark-skinned women in your music videos versus all light-skinned women. The light-skinned, dark-skinned issue certainly affects women in hip hop; does it affect men in hip hop?
I can’t say it for sure but I just think we’re still in America. We’re still Black Americans. Those mental chains are still in us. That brainwashing that tells us that light skin is better, it’s subconsciously in us, whether we know it or not… still pursuing light skin women. There are some women out there that are like, “I don’t even like light skin men” and that’s fine. But Barack Obama would not be President if he were dark skin. You know what I mean? That’s just the truth. I might not be as successful as I am now if I was dark skin. I’m not saying that for sure, I’m still as talented as I am and Obama is still as smart as he is, but it’s just a sad truth… I don’t even know if this is going to translate well into text and people not hearing what I’m saying, but it’s a sad reality. So I can only naturally assume it’s probably easier for a light skin male rapper than it might be for a dark skin male rapper. It’s all subconscious s***, nobody’s aware — I think that s*** still subconsciously affects us.
For more of the interview go to BET.