Why Is J. Cole Coming for Noname?

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J. Cole logged on to Twitter bright and early this morning to double down on his alleged Noname diss, but also to say that he honors and appreciates her. Make it make sense! Thirty-five-year-old Jermaine Cole’s new song “Snow on Tha Bluff” addresses the current protests against racism and police brutality across the world and alludes to J. Cole’s own feelings of inadequacy surrounding activism. But instead of just being up front about those insecurities, he spends over half of the song dragging an unnamed woman many assumed to be Noname, based on the tracks’s description of the woman’s tweets. On Twitter Wednesday morning, J. Cole said he stands behind “every word of the song that dropped last night.” “Some assume to know who the song is about,” he said in a thread. “That’s fine with me, it’s not my job to tell anybody what to think or feel about the work. I accept all conversation and criticisms. But let me use this moment to say this. Follow @noname. I love and honor her as a leader in these times. She has done and is doing the reading and the listening and the learning on the path that she truly believes is the correct one for our people. Meanwhile a nigga like me just be rapping.” He finishes by saying he’s not a leader, but appreciates Noname for “challenging” his beliefs. “We may not agree with each other but we gotta be gentle with each other,” he left with a peace sign, no petitions linked, no GoFundMes, no bail funds.

J. Cole’s idea of being “gentle” with Noname is spending the majority of “Snow on Tha Bluff” making assumptions about her and excuses for himself. “She mad at the celebrities, low-key I be thinkin’ she talkin’ ‘bout me / Now I ain’t no dummy to think I’m above criticism / So when I see something that’s valid, I listen / But shit, it’s something about the queen tone that’s botherin’ me,” he raps in the beginning. Cole is presumably talking about Noname’s recent tweet, where she called out “top selling rappers” in general who haven’t used their platform to show support for Black Lives Matter. He continues by assuming that Noname had “parents that know ‘bout the struggle for liberation,” but Noname herself had to read more about activism and capitalism after being dragged by Twitter last year. He suggests that she “treat people like children,” instead of calling them out, then, finally, turns to look inward. “But damn, why I feel faker than Snow on Tha Bluff?” he finishes. “Well, maybe ‘cause deep down I know I ain’t doing enough.”

Update, 2:30 p.m.: Chance the Rapper has caught up on the discourse. Chance, who helped boost Noname’s career with a feature on his mixtape Acid Rap, came in with his camp-counselor demeanor to try to create peace on Twitter, but J. Cole fans are not happy with the stance he took. “Yet another L for men masking patriarchy and gaslighting as contructive [sic] criticism,” he tweeted. When a fan tried to argue, he followed up with this: “They both my peoples but only one of them put out a whole song talking about how the other needs to reconsider their tone and attitude in order to save the world. It’s not constructive and undermines all the work Noname has done,” he continued. “It’s not BWs job to spoon feed us. We grown.” Finally, he tried to reach across the Twitter divide. “Everybody’s argument on either side is, we can’t personally attack each other if we really want to see a revolution,” he tweeted. “I can agree with that and can apply it in my own life. I wish we could learn that w/o two artists I admire having a public dispute.” Is this a dispute? Considering Noname hasn’t responded yet, it looks more like just another day as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

Update, 7:00 p.m., June 18: Noname has activated her queen tone and responded to J. Cole with a track of her own. On Thursday, June 18, rapper Noname dropped “Song 33,” a direct response to J. Cole for coming at her sideways with his song “Snow on Tha Bluff.” “I saw a demon on my shoulder/It’s looking like the patriarchy,” raps Noname at the beginning of the 1 minute and 10 second song. While she never mentions Jermaine by name, she directs a few lines of the verse at the rapper who admittedly has not read up on our current socio-political moment. “I guess the ego hurt now/It’s time to go to work wow/Look at him go/He really about to write about me when the world is in smokes?” J. Cole must have listened to the song, and perhaps learned something as he shared the song on his personal Twitter account. Game, set, and match, Noname.

Why Is J. Cole Coming for Noname?