J. Cole created a classic album with his ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive.’ So many amazing tracks about his come-up in the game propelled his success and established him among the icons. Among so many iconic tracks, “No Role Modelz” holds a candle to J. Cole’s journey and his hate for everything fake.
By 2014, J. Cole had released two studio albums and was making a name for himself in the rap circles as a promising newcomer. His 2014 project ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ seemed to establish him among the greats. Songs such as “Wet Dreamz,” “A Tale of 2 Citiez,” and “G.O.M.D.” really showcased what J. Cole was made up of. Among these songs, “No Role Modelz” is a special one.
As the title of the song suggests, it is a song about J. Cole’s journey to success without having any role models in his life. Usually, kids are said to need good role models to look up to when they are at the age of forming their personalities. This is said to shape them up in a good way to be good citizens in the future. But this does not necessarily happen in all environments.
On several occasions on tour, J. Cole explained the inspiration behind “No Role Modelz.” He explained a story of meeting an absolutely gorgeous woman while he was on tour. Her face was perfect, a true beauty queen. But her body was fake. Her behind was all silicone and so were her breasts. J. Cole hates fake people. But he thought he might be able to look past it this time, for the sake of her pretty face. So, while he relaxes, he visits her Instagram page. She has the most gorgeous pictures on her social media profile. J. Cole is thirsty all over again. She is wearing sexy lingerie in all of the pictures. He zooms in on the pictures and zooms out. Then he notices that the pictures are captioned with some of the most philosophical and deep quotes ever. Cole is perplexed. Is she the perfect woman? She looks gorgeous, she has a great personality, she has a great body, and she reads! But Cole soon realizes that all of these are just a charade to hide what’s really going on in her life. Cole says “and I didn’t have the time to really help her out. But I did write this song about her.”
Listen to “No Role Modelz” by J. Cole
Download ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ Album on Apple Music
J. Cole “No Role Modelz” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
Before J. Cole gets into the topic of not having any role models to look up to when he was growing up, he discusses the role models he did have.
He recalls the only father-figure he had growing up – the character of Uncle Phil from the TV series ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ (1990 – 1996). Cole’s role model as a child was a fictional character from TV. Cole pays tribute to the actor who played Uncle Phil – James Avery, who passed away on December 13, 2013 (a year before Cole’s album was released).
Cole promises to be a better father than Uncle Phil was to him. While Uncle Phil was a good dad on TV, it does not even compare to what a real father-son relationship is. But this is all Cole got.
Cole also references Martin Luther King Jr. who was a role model to the entire world. Most likely MLK was not an influential figure in Cole’s life during his childhood, but he was most likely an influence when Cole was a teenager. He pays homage to this iconic figure who was a prominent role in shattering the barriers between races.
Cole adds that the ideologies of MLK Jr. fit perfectly with what his record label, Dreamville, stands for.
J. Cole shouts out to two kinds of women from Los Angeles, California. He recognizes that there are respectable women as well as golddiggers in this city, especially because of the city’s notorious reputation for the limelight. People would do anything for an ounce of fame and fortune. Cole, fortunately for him, can tell the difference between these kinds of people.
The hook is an interpolation of Project Pat’s 2001 single “Don’t Save Her.”
Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved
Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved
In the context of the song, ‘saving’ someone refers to taking them under your love and care in hopes that they will stop sacrificing themselves for fame and fortune.
Cole knows that some of these women cannot be saved. No matter how much you try, they are addicted to the limelight. They cannot step away for whatever security, stability, love, and care they are offered. In fact, they don’t want to be saved.
In the second verse of “No Role Modelz,” Cole shares with us an experience he had with one of the promiscuous women from LA. She is so hot that Cole does not ever want to go home to his wife. The Trina mentioned here is a reference to the singer Trina, who claimed herself to be the baddest b*tch in her debut studio album titled the same.
Cole hangs up the phone and proceeds to have sex with this woman. It does not last long.
I came fast like 9-1-1 in white neighborhoods
A clever way to say that he could not last long as well as highlight the racial injustices in society. 911 dispatch services are supposed to respond to emergencies. Emergencies are critical situations that need immediate attention. Purposely delaying such a service tells us how some aspects of society were built to accommodate discrimination.
The girl is not happy, for obvious reasons. But she cannot do anything about it. She is with J. Cole. She just tells him that he is spoiled as he could have any girl he wants and kick any girl out when he is done with them. Cole got defensive and says he was just like this when he was not rich and famous.
This is not true. Cole snaps back to a time when he was a better man. Back when he had some respect for these LA women. Back when songs sold because of what they said and not how they sounded like.
In this verse, J. Cole gives some examples of the kinds of love he is looking for.
He looks to the TV series ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ again for inspiration. In the TV show, Aunt Vivian was played by two actresses. From Seasons 1-3, she was played by a darker-skinned girl and from Seasons 4-6, the role was taken over by a lighter-skinned girl. Cole says she prefers the former, who is generally acclaimed to have portrayed a stronger role on the show.
Cole also looks to the power couple of Hollywood, Will Smith and Jada Smith as the kind of relationship he wants for himself. Will Smith was also the lead role in the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ show.
Cole is tired of the Hollywood-love. These girls are vultures for fame and fortune and they will sleep with anyone to climb that one step in the ladder of stardom. He calls them ‘birds,’ a slang used for promiscuous women.
She deserved that, she a bird, it’s a bird trap
You think if I didn’t rap she would flirt back?
As J. Cole mentioned before he knows the good from the bad. And he is not trying to wifey any of these women. He knows what they are after and he treats them as such. Cole is very much aware that these women would not bat an eye towards him if he was not rich and famous. At least, no one gets their heart broken in these encounters.
This is one of the funniest parts of “No Role Modelz.” This is an excerpt from a speech given by former President George W. Bush at a Nashville school in 2002. The President brutally messes up the popular quote ‘Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.’ Watch the clip below.
J. Cole comes up with a very poetic way of reconstructing this quote.
Fool me one time, shame on you (Ayy)
Fool me twice, can’t put the blame on you (Ayy)
However, Cole takes it one step further. If he is fooled three times, he settles to more dire actions. This could very well be another hint at institutional racism. No matter how much he tries, he keeps getting fooled over and over again. And colored people have had to resort to more aggressive ways to defend themselves.
In the fourth and final verse on “No Role Modelz,” J. Cole lists some of the popular black women he would have loved to have been loved by. Lisa Bonet, Nia Long, Sade Adu, and Aaliyah are some of the names Cole drops.
Cole missed his chance with these women as they were much older than him. Now he is stuck with fake stars from reality shows and even worse — nightclubs. Greystone Manor is a popular nightclub in LA, famous among celebrities.
In the second chorus of the song, J. Cole slaps the coffin shut on these women. They are shallow with morales, but their sexual organs are deep from being overused. Cole wants no part of these women in his long-term plans.
This is how J. Cole grew up with no role models in his life and is now surrounded by fake models.
Let us hear what you think about this song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics on Genius.