Exclusive Interview

J. Cole Explains Personal Story Behind 'Born Sinner' Track "Let Nas Down"

"I was hurt on the inside because I really idolize Nas," Cole says of the Queens rapper's harsh criticism of his early single, "Work Out"
 / June 7, 2013

One of the most introspective tracks off J. Cole's much-anticipated new album, Born Sinner, is "Let Nas Down." We've got the full album review, but turns out, there's a very personal story of artistic defeat and triumph behind that particular track. Cole explains to Fuse...

"That song is just special. It's a long story that has to do with how I came up in the game," he says. Cole explains that he was releasing mixtapes, but "waiting around for an album release date from the label."

"Fast forward: It's two years [later] and I still don't have an album release date," he says. "But I made this song ... 'Work Out.' I was excited that I had made something that I felt was a guaranteed smash. So I finally put out the single and it was the worst response I've ever gotten on any song I've put out."

Nas didn't like "Work Out" either. 

Producer No I.D., who was working with Nas at the time, called Cole and asked, "Why did y'all put out that song?" Cole explains: "[No I.D.] says, 'I'm gonna tell you the truth. I was in the studio with Nas and we were talking about you, like, why'd he put out that song? Doesn't he know he's the one and that he doesn't have to do that?'"

"I was getting mad defensive," says Cole, "because they don't know what I had to go through. But I was hurt on the inside because I really idolize Nas." 

"Eventually 'Work Out' became a massive record," continues Cole. "But at the time it was hurtful. So I really vented on ['Let Nas Down']."

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