J. Cole says he started smoking when he was six years old
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J.Cole has revealed he started smoking when he was just six years old and that, for weeks, 'nobody was really worried about him'.
The 'Wet Dreamz' rapper has dedicated a lot of his discography - particularly his fifth album KOD - to warning his fans about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, so it might come as a surprise to hear this from Cole.
J. Cole, real name Jermaine Lamarr Cole, explained that he regularly smoked cigarettes around his neighborhood, 'trying to be cool' in front of the older kids.
Speaking to the Lead By Example podcast, the 'Work Out' singer recalled: "At six years old, I was smoking cigarettes, regularly around the neighborhood.
"The thing was, my brother’s almost four years older than me. I was always hanging around the older kids in the neighborhood that he was hanging around.
"And they were smoking. I was young and fearless, trying to be cool."
He said that, to the older kids, it was 'funny' to see six-year-old Cole smoking, but when his brother finally told on him, it was a 'life-changing moment'.
Cole explained: "They’re 10 themselves, so it’s funny for them to see. Nobody’s really worried about me: ‘Hey don’t do that!’.
"They’re 10 and smoking cigarettes. I’m smoking with these older kids, this is going on for two to three weeks."
He continued: "One day, I’m down the street at a house where it was happening at. My brother comes up and I asked one of our homeboys in the neighborhood, ‘You got any cigarettes?’ I’m six, trying to be cool."
It was then that J. Cole's brother decided he was 'telling mom', and walked straight home to rat out his little brother.
"This was the life-changing moment right here, because I saw her face. When she smelled cigarettes on my breath, her face was like… it was heartbroken.
"It was disbelief, it was crushed. I remember the look on her face. She was like, ‘You have been smoking!’ It hit her, that her baby who’s six, a) is capable of smoking cigarettes. And b) capable of lying dead to her face about it.”
After that, Jermaine says he 'didn't need much more correction', and his mother's reaction was enough to set him straight.
"I became a self-corrector - is because that was the first time I became aware that, 'Oh, my actions can hurt someone else'."
Elsewhere in the interview, J. Cole shared that he hopes to use the lessons he has learned to offer his kids a better life.
The rapper shares two children with his wife Melissa Heholt.
"I think my wish and my hope is I just want you to cut down the time that it took me," he mused.
"The thing that I learned at 30, I hope you can learn at 15 or 16. I just want you to be able to learn the lessons that can lead you to peace quicker."