It’s easy to forget with Kendrick Lamar‘s masterpiece out now, but a few months back, J. Cole‘s 2014 Forest Hills Drive was on repeat for many. Cole is currently on tour, but he took his time off to sit with Tavis Smiley for a light conversation.
Cole looked like he enjoyed himself as he rehashed a number of things during the conversation: his transition from being a college graduate to rapping, his already known plan to lend his old childhood home to single-mother families in need and the goodwill he hopes to spread throughout the album.
It was an interview aimed toward an audience with a cursory knowledge of J. Cole, but there was still some gems here. One was on the hollowness of the nation’s education system, specifically how it teaches to standardized test scores rather to educate. He remembers his learning days as, “just getting by,” and awaiting his test scores because of the same bit of competitive spirit inherent in hip-hop.
“My mom tells a story about when I was in first grade — you know when they have parent teacher conferences — she came to the first grade teacher, and the teacher was like, ‘What do you do in your home?’” Cole said. “‘He comes up to me every day and asks me what his grade is … She’s like,’ Yo, it’s first grade.”
Smiley and Cole also moved on to touch on the album. Nothing too revelatory was discussed; a skim through 2014 Forest Hills Drive‘s lyrics would clue you in to what “A Tale of 2 Citiez” and “Fire Squad” are about. Cole saved his most insightful comments for “Love Yourz.” That’s available for your viewing pleasure below. Check out the full interview here.