Image Courtesy Sony Music Entertainment/Roc NationJ. Cole rides shotgun with NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s third annual Music Issue.
In the issue, Cole explains the shout-out to Dale on the his song “Note to Self.” Although the pair had never met before, Cole included the lyric after discovering that Dale loved his hit song “Power Trip.”
“There was an interview Dale Jr. did that asked him what he plays before races, and he said ‘J. Cole Power Trip,’ which freaked me out! What is Dale Earnhardt Jr. doing playing my sh**? How did he even find out about it?” said Cole.
“You don’t think somebody on that level would ever hear your stuff. From there, I never forgot. I was always like, ‘Yo, I ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’ So when I was picking a name, I chose his,” Cole says of the song which appears on his latest album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive.
He continued, “Everywhere I go now — the airport, the store — people say, ‘Yo, Cole, I love that album, bro, it’s a classic!’ And Dale Earnhardt Jr., it’s the first thing they bring up! It’s already a thing in hip-hop, already an inside joke that’s going to live forever.”
Aside from their North Carolina roots, the rapper says that they have more in common than expected. “NASCAR represents working-class people. It gives them something to tune in to every week and dream about. It’s not a bougie sport by any means. It’s not a rich sport by any means,” said Cole.”[Rap] culture has a lot in common with this culture and doesn’t know it. And this culture doesn’t know it either. It could change the world if they were to ever merge and really become friends.”
ESPN The Magazine’s Music Issue hits stands January 23.
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