Years before J. Cole began smoking up the rap charts, he was a 6-year-old taking drags on a cigarette.
The 38-year-old “No Role Modelz” rapper, whose real name is Jermaine Cole, spoke about his single mother, Kay, being disappointed to learn about his habit during Tuesday’s episode of the “Lead by Example With Bob Myers” podcast.
During the interview, J. Cole revealed that he began smoking cigarettes when he was just six years old.
“At six years old, I was smoking cigarettes regularly around the neighborhood. … I was always hanging around the older kids in the neighborhood that [my older brother] was hanging around, and they were smoking.
“And I was young and fearless and trying to be cool. So, it was like, ‘Oh, y’all smoking. Like, let me see that.’ And, of course, we’re all out there kinda [with] young parents, with long leashes.
“To them, it’s funny. They’re 10 themselves. So, it’s funny for them. Nobody’s really worried about me. Nobody is like, ‘Hey! Don’t do that.’ They’re 10 and smoking cigarettes.”
J. Cole said while he smoked at that age for two or three weeks, it all came to end one day when he was at a friend’s house. He said his brother who was confused after he asked a friend for a cigarette, walked home and told their mom.
Seeing the disappointment on his mom’s face was all he needed to see. He said;
“20 minutes later, my brother walks back to the backyard where we was at. ‘Jermaine!’ He’s like, ‘Mom wants to see you’.
“So I’m walking home, no fear. No worry at all. I saw her face. When she smelled cigarettes on my breath, her face was heartbroken. It was disbelief. It was like, crushed.
“I remember the look on her face and she was like, ‘You have been smoking.’ It like hit her.”
J. Cole explained how the moment changed his life, as it made him aware that his actions could hurt someone. He added;
“The reason why I think that was a life-changing moment, where after that I didn’t need much correction—I became a self-corrector—is because that was the first time I became aware that, ‘Oh, my actions can hurt someone else.’”