J. Cole sat down with Billboard for a rare interview and opened up about some pretty polarizing topics — including politics.
When asked why he doesn’t participate in many public political conversations, J. Cole revealed that he doesn’t really have much interest. He also says that the reason he didn’t vote in the 2016 election is because he didn’t believe in Hillary Clinton enough.
Check out a few excerpts:
Billboard: Celebrity drama is one thing, but what about serious matters like politics?
J. Cole: I might not be on Twitter at that time. I might not be in the mode of confidently expressing my opinions via text. I speak better from the heart, out loud. And when it really moves me, I’ll do it. But politics really doesn’t interest me anymore. I try to stay as far away from politics as possible.
I don’t click the links. The headlines are enough. I understand there is a segment of politics where you have people — and this is the part I respect — who truly are trying to use it as a tool for change, and they devote their life to grassroots voter registration and shit like that. They’re living a life that’s unselfish. But the politics we’re talking about [slaps table] is Trump headlines.
What are your thoughts on those headlines?
We’re really silly. Human beings are easily manipulated and distracted. You couldn’t have told anybody 10 years ago that this would be the landscape of American discourse. That these would be the topics of conversation: fucking Kardashian drama and Trump drama.
Did you vote in 2016
No, I didn’t.
Because Hillary Clinton wasn’t somebody that was motivating me to go vote. If it was Bernie Sanders, I would’ve showed up and voted. I would’ve been the first one in line, no bullshit. No disrespect to Hillary.
Did you do any campaigning for Bernie?
No. Because I don’t care to lend my voice for a politician at the end of the day.
Do you think that might change by 2020 or the midterms?
The next election? It depends on who they put up there. Trust me, I hate to be a person who’s even promoting that I didn’t vote. Actually, with Trump in office, I love that America gets to see the truth. If Hillary Clinton was in office, it would be the most fucking disingenuous shit because everybody would be thinking that everything’s cool because we got an incredibly qualified female president. Which would’ve been amazing on so many levels. But all the shit we see right now would’ve still existed; it would’ve just been quiet. And I prefer this shit to be out loud. I prefer an honest America. I prefer the world seeing that, yes, we’re a country that is dumb enough — no disrespect — [that] we got duped into electing Donald Trump.
J. Cole also spoke about a conversation he had with XXXTentacion prior to his passing and wishing he had the opportunity to help him.
When XXXTentacion died, you tweeted that he had “a strong desire to be a better person.” Did you know him?
I spoke to him on FaceTime one day in February for, like, three hours. His management reached out to Ib and asked if he could FaceTime me or call me. It was a super-intense conversation. He left a mark on me, just as a person.
What did he want to talk about?
Pssht. He started off the conversation literally on some, like — he didn’t even say hello. He started off basically saying, “I’m not on your level yet.” He was talking about spiritually and mentally, and that was intense because I was like, “Huh? I’m not on no level.” He was praising me while also saying he was going to achieve whatever it is he felt that I had. I’ve dealt with mentally ill people in my life before, many of them. And right away, I notice that this kid is super passionate and smart, but I could also see that he was so deep in his mind.
When I found out [about the abuse allegations against him], my first response was, “Man, I hope maybe one day I’ll get a chance to talk to this kid and figure out if there’s any place that I can help.” Because anybody who would do the shit that he did… Hurt people hurt people. I’ve walked through prisons and talked to these dudes who got life. They took someone’s life at 16 or 17 years old. You haven’t had the chance to process your trauma at that age. I’ma be sympathetic to a kid who has clearly been through so much fucked-up shit that he inflicted this on someone else.
You can read J. Cole’s full interview over at Billboard.