Listen to this article here
J. Cole has scored his first number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, solidifying his role as a leader in hip hop.
Jermaine Cole, better known as J. Cole, dropped his first mixtape, “The Come Up” in 2007. Since then, he has won a Grammy Award, had six albums peak at #1 on the billboard charts. He’s also had three albums go platinum with no features or singles.
As successful as his career has been, he did not reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, until 2023. Cole is featured on Drake’s “First Shooter” from his most recent album, “For All My Dogs.”
Notably, Cole has consistently been considered one of the top artists of his generation. So, why has it taken so long for him to receive his first #1 song? Let’s take a brief look at his journey to the top of the charts.
The Warm Up: Lights Please
Most artists put in years of work before reaching mainstream status, and Cole is no different. It was not until 2009 that he finally got his shot at a mainstream audience.
He was the first artist to be signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label and was featured on “A Star Is Born” from Jay-Z studio album “The Blueprint 3.”
In 2010, Cole released his initial first single “Who Dat,” which debuted at #93 on the Billboard Hot 100. Even with that accolade, Cole was not satisfied.
In a 2013 interview with the Breakfast Club, J Cole talked about his woes of a delayed album release and the lesson he learned from a poorly charting single.
“Imagine talking about your album from fall of 2009 to fall of 2010 and still no album. He mentioned that he could not get a release date because he did not have a single that was connecting to the audience. “Who Dat didn’t work, Who Dat also taught me how that radio game works… a song like Who Dat never had a chance, even though I was really on there rapping or whatever,” he said.
In 2011, Cole released his debut Album: Cole World: The Sideline Story. The song “Work Out” was released as his official first single of the album and peaked at #13 on the Billboard hot 100.
The Come Up
In 2013, the rap game was heavily inundated with hip hop legends and heavy hitters, but Cole, along with Drake and Kendrick Lamar, began showcasing the “Three Headed Monster,” as they would go on to dominate the rest of the decade.
There are many debates about who has held and who holds the top spot, but all their work speaks for itself. All three artist have worked with each other and had albums debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 in the 2010s. J Cole had three: “2014 Forest Hills Drive”, “For Your Eyez Only,” and “KOD.”
From the Blow Up to Billboard Hot 100
In 2018, Cole made a tweet that would help send him to new heights and eventually led him to his first Grammy award and his first #1 song on the carts. J Cole proclaimed that would demolish every track that he would get on.
In response to the tweet, he received nearly 6,500 beats, and eventually signed rapper and producer (J.I.D) to his Dreamville label.
Since 2018 J Cole has been featured on a countless number of songs and has been widely praised for his run. Even with his successful run, he’s only managed to peak at #2 before collaborating with Drake.
One of his most recent features includes Lil Yachty’s “The Secret Recipe (Sept. 29). J Cole astonishingly raps 32 bars without switching the cadence, and some are calling it the verse of the year.
Approximately one week later (Oct. 6) Drake released “First Person Shooter,” which would land J Cole his first #1 song and Drake his thirteenth (13) #1 song on the Hot 100 – tying Michael Jackson– for most #1 song.