August 19, 2013 12:00 PM

>J. COLE

On going head-to-head with Kanye West

I moved my album up to compete with Kanye [and his Yeezus, released the same day] to make a statement. The fact that three weeks after that I got a No. 1 album was icing on the cake. It feels good.

On getting TLC to appear on his uplifting new single “Crooked Smile”

I missed them. I was a big TLC fan growing up. They had these huge hits that were positive, like “Waterfalls” and “Unpretty.”

On Jay-Z, who signed him to his label Roc Nation

Our relationship is great. He’s like a Jedi. He’s outlasted all these other rappers and he’s still on top.

On graduating magna cum laude from St. John’s University

I always wanted to go to college. I got a four-year experience that most rappers don’t get.

On thanking his mom

All my nerve came from her. I’m not the richest, but I found a way so she doesn’t have to deliver mail anymore. She can relax, and that’s a beautiful feeling.

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