Producer and MC J. Cole was the first artist signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label. Born in Germany but raised in North Carolina, Cole grew up with a mother who loved rock and folk, while his father was a fan of hardcore hip-hop artists like 2Pac and Ice Cube.
Graduating high school, his grades were good enough to earn a scholarship, but hip-hop had taken hold of his life. He quickly decided that N.Y.C. was where artists went to get signed.