While most of the world has been waiting on a “Control” response from J. Cole or one of his hip-hop peers, the Born Sinner emcee has been busy playing the sixth installment of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist video game.
The latest installment of this classic video game picks up with Sam Fisher leading the new “Fourth Echelon” as an undercover unit working for the POTUS, and since J. Cole has been playing the game consistently since he was a sophomore at St. John’s University, the 28-year-old rapper was the perfect musical inclusion on the game’s trailer.
J. Cole’s “Miss America” single, which was released in early 2013, is featured on the video game’s trailer, making this version of Splinter Cell extra special to the North Carolina native.
According to J. Cole, the reason why he loves the latest installment of Splinter Cell is because players can choose their own personal play styles while choosing a variation of three different playing modes.
GlobalGrind briefly sat down with the “Crooked Smile” rapper to talk about his new collaboration with the good people at Ubisoft and how video games affected his life as a kid.
We also explored the mind of J. Cole’s 12-year-old self and what kind of music he loved back in 1997. Splinter Cell: Blacklist is currently available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, WiiU and Windows PC.
Check out our exclusive interview with J. Cole below.
GlobalGrind: So tell me about Splinter Cell and how “Miss America” ended up on the game.
J. Cole: Well, Splinter Cell is a video game I used to play in college. I had a friend who put me on. So my sophomore year, my girl bought me an X-box, and she probably regretted that after she bought it [laughs], because I was playing it all the time. They had an online game, and I had a headset where I could talk to my homeboys. Yeah, like I was one of those dudes. My sophomore year, I was on this game heavy.
I’m not a gamer, and I definitely don’t have time to play like I used to anymore, but when they reached out to use “Miss America” as a part of their marketing, it just made sense because I actually had a history with the game, so it felt right. Not to mention the song matches the feel of this game.
What were some of your favorite video games to play as a kid?
When I was a kid, definitely NBA Live. But then when NBA 2K came out, that changed the game, period. That was it. You know, you had a lot of people who were still trying to hold on to NBA Live, but 2K, in my eyes, that first year it dropped, it took the cake – it was over as you can see, 13 years later.
What is it about video games that guys just love?
Competitiveness, its competitive nature, I think. It’s the competition. Me and my brother used to go at it, all the time, if he’d lose to me, he’d get mad and slam the controller.
Did he ever turn the game off on you?
For sure! He’s older so he’d just try to bully me, you know what I mean – cut the game off, or slam the controller – whatever. So whether it’s competition between other people or you competing against the computer, you want to show the computer it’s not better than you. It’s not a real person, but that’s what makes it even worse if you lose, it’s like, “yo, I’m losing against the computer right now?” So it’s the competition that does it, I think.
What was the 12-year-old J. Cole like? What were you listening to?
That was 7th grade. In 1997, I was listening to a mixture of stuff. I was a rap fan, in the sense that I had Tupac. I was playing all Tupac, because he had just died the year before that. I was on that heavy, reminiscing. Biggie’s album was heavy that year, because that had come out – Life After Death. And that summer was an amazing summer, that was Puff Daddy’s first album Puff Daddy And The Family: No Way Out, and that was a big album for me. And that same summer was Missy Elliott’s album too. So I remember that time in my life, musically, a lot. It was a Bad Boy sound, with Biggie and Puff’s album and then Missy, that album was big. That’s what I was listening to. R&B-wise – Usher’s album at that time was out. It was right before I made the transition into really focusing on rap. I hadn’t hit that underground nerd rap phase yet. I was still basically on what was given to me and what was around me.
What were you like in school? Who was Jermaine at 12?
I was a class clown. At 12, I was definitely clowning. I was making all the jokes. But I was smart so the teachers didn’t know what to do with me. But I was definitely the class clown. I had jokes on everybody – for everybody. Like reading, I had to make a little funny voice, if I was reading. I was just a goofy little funny kid, who was always getting sent to the principal. It wasn’t serious because I was smart. I wasn’t like a true troublemaker, just rambunctious – like talkative and trying to be funny. That was me in middle-school.
When I got to high school, becoming cool was way more important. In retrospect, it’s just some high school sh*t. It was more like, ‘OK, how do I figure out how to get these girls?’ I started dressing better. I still had a little bit of the class clown in me, but high school, it was such a new thing for me, I didn’t have that same spirit that I had in middle school. In middle school, I was a little star.