Jermaine Lamarr Cole (born January 28, 1985), known professionally as J. Cole, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. Born on a military base in Germany but raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Cole initially gained recognition as a rapper following the release of his debut mixtape, The Come Up, in early 2007. Intent on further pursuing a solo career as a rapper, he went on to release two additional mixtapes, The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights after signing to Jay-Z's Roc Nation imprint in 2009.
Cole released his debut studio album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, in 2011. It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, and was soon certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His next two releases, 2013's Born Sinner and 2014's 2014 Forest Hills Drive, received mostly positive reviews from critics, and both were certified platinum in the United States. The latter earned him his first Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album. In December 2016, Cole released his fourth studio album 4 Your Eyez Only. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum in April 2017. His fifth album, KOD, was released in April 2018. The album debuted atop the Billboard 200, making it his fifth album to reach number one on the chart.
Self-taught on piano, Cole also acts as a producer alongside his hip-hop career, producing singles for artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Janet Jackson, as well as handling the majority of the production in his own projects. He has also developed other ventures, including Dreamville Records, as well as a non-profit organization called the Dreamville Foundation. In January 2015, Cole decided to house single mothers rent-free at his childhood home in Fayetteville, North Carolina. J. Cole is also a past member of the alternative hip hop collective All City Chess Club.
On January 21, 2019 Cole announced the single, "Middle Child", will be released on January 23, produced by T-Minus. Prior to the announcement, four messages were shared on Cole's Instagram reading: "I'm making a list. I'm writing down names. I'm loading my clips. I'm counting my bullets."