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Drake and J. Cole Walked Parallel Paths on the Way to Running Rap

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Drake and J. Cole entered the consciousness of the rap world around the same time in the mid-aughts: The former’s Room for Improvement dropped in 2006 and the latter’s The Come Up came out over a year later. Their debut albums, 2010’s Thank Me Later and 2011’s Cole World: The Sideline Story, also arrived within a year of each other. Both projects helped solidify them as leaders of the new school of rappers. And thanks to the tutelage from their respective legendary mentors Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, they were able to lay the groundwork for becoming two of the biggest rappers in the world: Between them, they have more than 50 billion streams of their dense catalogs in addition to a heap of BET, Billboard, and Grammy awards, along with enough influence to affect an entire generation of rappers and rap fans.


Through the years, Cole and Drake have fostered a close friendship—from Drizzy buying dozens of copies of Born Sinner at Best Buy with Cole to the two making several surprise appearances at each other’s shows through the years. Though their personalities and the subject matter of their music are vastly different, they experienced the same hills and valleys in their careers. They beat the sophomore slump allegations with Born Sinner and Take Care, landed their classic albums within a year of each other with 2014 Forest Hills Drive and Nothing Was the Same, and have continued to climb the ranks of rap side by side until they finally reached the pinnacle of the genre together. 

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