Sound Check: J. Cole – Storms

Storms are not always acts of nature. They are sometimes gusts of turbulent circumstances that shake our emotional foundations. A storm is also a measure of talent or success so tremendous it blows away those who witness it.

Roc Nation Hip Hop star J. Cole is comparable to a hurricane. Thanks to swelling gusts of lyrical brilliance and empathy for cloudy situations, the German-born rhymer witnessed his long-awaited debut album –Cole World: The Sideline Story – storm to #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. In North Carolina where he grew up, the storming J. Cole encountered is far more literal.

Soul Train: J, were you home when Hurricane Irene hit North Carolina this past year?

J. Cole: No, I was in New York. Ever since Katrina, anytime there’s a hurricane anywhere everybody’s radar goes up. Like they evacuated certain parts of New York for like pretty much a tropical storm.

Soul Train: Do you think they were overreacting?

J. Cole: I’m not going to call it overreacting because you always want to be safe. We have a lot of hurricanes and tropical storms every year. So it’s nothing new – at least in North Carolina. We’re used to that.

Soul Train: Did anything happen to anyone close to you?

J. Cole: Nobody in my family or friends got hurt, luckily, because it wasn’t a disastrous hurricane. There are many levels of hurricanes.

Soul Train: Even when the hurricane level isn’t that bad, do you still feel a tremendous sense of worry?

J. Cole:  I’ve been through so many hurricanes that the only time I would worry is if there’s literally a Category 5 coming straight for the coast of North Carolina! But overall…I’m just used to them.

Soul Train: When you don’t experience that intense force of nature, it sounds funny to hear someone who’s lived through them say they’re used to it.

Cole World - The Sideline Story - J Cole

J. Cole: When you grow up with them you learn certain things. Like if the hurricane lands and where you are is to the right of the eye of the storm…you’re finished. That’s the strongest part of the storm! If you’re to the left, or further away in the outer bands of it, you’ll be okay. So unless it’s a real bad one I don’t get that worried.

Soul Train: If and when it does get real bad, what do you think is the proper way to help as far as relief efforts?

J. Cole:  Response time. You have to understand Katrina was a totally different situation. I can’t really name a lot of hurricanes that had the effect on a state it had.  Proper relief efforts for that situation were just a matter of timing and true concern. It was a lack of…everything – response time, manner of response, lack of organization… New Orleans was a very unique situation!

Soul Train: You’re right on the ocean in NC, don’t you fear water damage too?

J. Cole: Well… you’re not going to have a lot of major flooding. You’ll have some damage. So if a hurricane hits North Carolina you’re going to need a different type of relief. There’s need for a lot of clean-up, and road clean-up. You’ll get trees on houses.

Soul Train: When this is happening back home and you’re not there, how do you handle people bringing it up and asking questions about the wellbeing of your loved ones?

J. Cole: I appreciate the concern and people asking if my family is okay. The worst things they had to worry about with this last one were some trees down, some power lines, but nothing Katrina-level.

For more on J. Cole visit his official website, also check him out at and on Twitter @jcolenc

–Mr. Joe Walker

Mr. Joe Walker, a senior contributor for, is an acclaimed entertainment and news journalist published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. He loves to create, loves that you read. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker.  Also visit and

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