You Let Cole Down: J. Cole Responds To Nas’ Abuse Allegations

September 28, 2018  |  

SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 01: J. Cole performs at Bumbershoot at Seattle Center on September 1, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/WireImage)

In the Hip Hop community, Nas and J. Cole have a relationship. But in a recent interview, Cole shares that he’s been disappointed by allegations of his abusive behavior from his ex-wife and mother of his child Kelis.

But before we discuss all of that, we need to tell the story of their relationship in Hip Hop.

Naturally, Nas was a revered figure to Cole. So it makes sense that Nas’ opinion would matter to him. But when he released the single “Work Out” for his album Born Sinner, it wasn’t received as well as he thought it would be.

Before Born Sinner, Cole had been releasing mix-tapes waiting for a release date for the album.

“Fast forward: It’s two years [later] and I still don’t have an album release date, Cole said in an interview with Fuse. “But I made this song … ‘Work Out.’ I was excited that I had made something that I felt was a guaranteed smash. So I finally put out the single and it was the worst response I’ve ever gotten on any song I’ve put out.”

Later, No I.D., a well-known producer and Cole’s mentor, who was working with Nas at the time, called J.Cole and asked him about the decision to release “Work Out” first.

He said, “Why did y’all put out that song?” Then No I.D. hit Cole with the dagger. “I’m gonna tell you the truth. I was in the studio with Nas and we were talking about you, like, ‘Why’d he put out that song? Doesn’t he know he’s the one and that he doesn’t have to do that.”

Cole said he was defensive in his response after waiting so long for his album to be released. “But I was hurt on the inside because I really idolize Nas.”

Which resulted in the song, “Let Nas Down.”

In response, Nas released “Let Nas Down Remix,” in which he said I’m not disappointed with you. You didn’t let me down. It was a beautiful moment.

But time moves on and time changes things. But not really time, the information that comes along with it. And since that Hip Hop moment, Kelis, Nas’ ex-wife, came forward with allegations of abuse and claims that he wasn’t a present father for their son Knight.

In light of all of this info, people were eager to know what Cole thought about all of it.

And when he spoke to Billboard, he shared his honest opinion. And it wasn’t flattering.

“Yeah, that hurt. I ain’t going to lie. That hurts. It feels weird because I f*ck with Nas, but I just have to be honest. I came up seeing too much f*cked-up sh*t for that to be acceptable. I don’t care who it is. I don’t f*ck with people abusing women, and I don’t f*ck with people not taking care of their kids.”

Then Billboard asked, Do you see there eventually being more consequences for this type of behavior?

Cole: So your question is, Will there come a day when news like that can shut down somebody’s entire shit?

Billboard: Right. Do you think cancel culture has any legitimacy?

Cole: That’s tough because we’re talking about black women. If it was a white woman involved with these allegations, then sadly — I’m realizing as I’m talking to you — maybe people wouldn’t cancel them just as quick, but labels would be forced to cancel, because white outrage is way more powerful than black outrage, unfortunately. When white people start getting outraged about this type of shit, then maybe something will happen.


I was struck by this conversation not only because of his truthfulness (J. Cole’s music and his interviews have often addressed the issue of his abusive stepfather.) but because this is one of the few times I’ve seen a Black male rapper speak out against another Black male rapper for his mistreatment of women. Rappers call each other out all of the time. Snoop doesn’t like Kanye’s association with Trump. Rick Ross doesn’t like the way Birdman handles business. Pusha T. thinks Drake is overrated and undeserving of his fame.

But rappers have been silent about Fabolous’ alleged abuse of Emily B. and the clear intimidation tactics he used when stepping to her in that video. The video was all over the place and there was radio silence. Before the release of Straight Outta Compton no one was the least bit bothered by Dr. Dre and his numerous instances of abuse against Black women, famous and otherwise. Big Pun is seen chasing his terrified wife on camera but no one ever talks about that when they mention his life and career. Black male rappers didn’t say a word said about Nelly’s or Freddie Gibbs’ rape allegations. It doesn’t matter to them. Black women don’t matter.

The only times I can recall rappers speaking out in defense of women is when said woman is connected to them. Pusha T. reportedly let loose on Drake, exposing an entire child, because he mentioned his fiancée in his “Duppy Freestyle.”

Generally, rappers don’t make a point of speaking up and out for women to which they have no romantic or familial connection–especially when it means implicating another Black man, a peer in the Hip Hop industry.

But here is J. Cole doing something different. Hopefully, there will be others who follow in his footsteps so there’s eventually a long overdue change in tide when it comes to the rampant misogynoir in Hip Hop and the Black community at large.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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