J. Cole

 

The first artist signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, J. Cole (born Jermaine Cole) was born to military parents in Germany and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, before attending St. John’s University in New York and graduating Magna Cum Laude. The self-described “LeBron James of rap” released his first mixtape, The Come Up, in 2007. After hearing the song, “Lights Please,” Jay-Z decided to sign him. A second mixtape, The Warm Up, was followed by a guest verse on Jay-Z’s 2009’s The Blueprint 3, aptly titled “A Star Is Born.” Last year brought a hit collaboration with Miguel (“All I Want Is You”), and a third mixtape, Friday Night Lights, to hold his fans down while Cole prepares his official debut.