rap and hip-hop<..." /> How J. Cole Has Helped the Rap Scene’s Link to the NBA - The Hype Magazine


Published on October 23rd, 2023 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


How J. Cole Has Helped the Rap Scene’s Link to the NBA

In the ever-evolving world of rap and hip-hop, a handful of names have transcended the boundaries of the genre, impacting the culture in profound ways. Among them, J. Cole stands out, not only for his lyrical prowess but also for his undeniable love and passion for basketball. 

Through this article, we’ll explore the deep-rooted connection between J. Cole’s music, his fondness for basketball, and how he has bridged these two worlds together.

The Origins of J. Cole’s Musical Journey

In the realm of rap, understanding the roots of an artist can provide valuable insights into their influence on the industry.

Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Jermaine Lamarr Cole, popularly known as J. Cole, began his musical journey in Fayetteville, North Carolina. His passion for storytelling and rhyme became evident at a young age, leading him to drop his first mixtape, which garnered significant attention.

Basketball in Cole’s Lyrics

In many of his tracks, J. Cole makes evident his passion for basketball. This isn’t mere name-dropping but an insight into how intertwined the sport is with his identity.

Drawing Parallels With NBA Legends

Songs like “Fire Squad” and “Love Yourz” are filled with references to NBA stars. Through these lyrics, Cole draws comparisons between his career trajectory and the journeys of iconic basketball players.

J. Cole’s On-Court Ventures

While many rappers express their love for basketball through lyrics, J. Cole took it a step further by stepping onto the court. 

Rwandan Basketball League Debut

In 2021, Cole made headlines by joining the Rwanda Patriots in the Basketball Africa League, showcasing that his love for the sport went beyond just metaphors in his songs.

Cole averaged 1.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and one assist in 45 total minutes over three games (averaging 15 minutes per game). Back then, a source told ESPN’s The Undefeated that he departed from Rwanda because of a “family obligation.” 

Despite his modest stats, Cole’s time in the BAL was significant. He was one of the first major celebrities to play in the league, and his presence helped to raise awareness of the BAL and basketball in Africa.

North Carolina and Its Basketball Legacy

Cole is from North Carolina, so his affection for basketball is hardly surprising given the state’s rich basketball legacy.

Hornets and the Home Connection

Being raised in North Carolina, J. Cole is an avid Hornets fan being spotted countless times on courtside seats. And even though the Hornets have not been relevant in a very long time, players like LaMelo Ball are always crowd favorites and without a doubt with NC sports betting sites.

Cole is now more than a fan. In July he became a minority owner of the Hornets after the NBA approved Michael Jordan’s sale.  

The Cultural Impact of J. Cole’s Dual Interests


Cole’s dedication to both rap and basketball provides a unique lens through which fans can view the cultural impact of the two.

Influencing the Younger Generation

By merging his two passions, J. Cole serves as an inspiration to many young talents who look up to him, showing that one doesn’t have to be boxed into a single interest or profession.

Collaborations With NBA Stars

The connection between basketball and rap is further exemplified by the collaborations between J. Cole and various NBA personalities.

Damian Lillard and Other NBA Rappers

Beyond just being fans, some NBA players, like Damian Lillard, have ventured into rap. Cole’s connections with such personalities enrich the bond between the NBA and the rap scene.

Impact on Fashion and Sneaker Culture

The worlds of basketball, rap, and fashion often intersect, and J. Cole stands at this crossroads with significant influence.

The Dreamer Collection

In collaboration with Puma, J. Cole launched the Dreamer shoe collection. These sneakers, deeply rooted in basketball culture, represent the fusion of Cole’s musical and athletic sides.

J. Cole’s Role in NBA Events

Beyond his songs, J. Cole’s presence in NBA events has cemented the rapper’s influence in both worlds.

All-Star Game Performances

Cole’s performance at the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte is testament to his dual roles as both an acclaimed artist and an avid basketball enthusiast.

The Broader Rap-NBA Connection

While J. Cole is a prominent figure bridging the NBA and rap worlds, this connection has deeper historical roots.

From Rucker Park to Mainstream Media

The relationship between hip-hop and basketball can be traced back to streetball tournaments and playgrounds, with rappers and ballers sharing mutual admiration and drawing inspiration from each other.

Concluding Thoughts on J. Cole’s Impact

Cole’s journey serves as a mirror to the evolving relationship between basketball and rap, reflecting the deep synergies and shared narratives between the two.

A Legacy Beyond Music

J. Cole, with his unparalleled talent and dedication to both his crafts, has not only left an indelible mark on the rap industry but also on the NBA, uniting fans from both worlds and celebrating the intertwined culture that binds them.



About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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