After releasing his powerful music video for “G.O.M.D.” from his 2014 Forest Hills Drive album, J. Cole spoke to Saint Heron about his inspiration behind the track and the video, which he directed himself. Talking to the magazine, Cole says that his visual direction was rooted in a memory of his childhood when his mother took him to see a play by African-American playwright August Wilson, titled “The Piano Lesson.” Cole also addresses the similarities in his and Kendrick Lamar‘s messages calling for unity in the black community, no matter the differences, be they gang colors or skin colors.


On “G.O.M.D.” song inspiration:

“It just so happens that on that song, I sampled this old, field song that used to be sung by like railroad workers. The first time I heard it, it was at this play called “The Piano Lesson.” My mom took me to see it when I was back home in Fayetteville. The man who wrote it, [August] Wilson, is like one of the best black playwrights that ever lived…When I heard them singing it live, I’m looking around the theatre like, “Yo, do y’all know how crazy this is? Like, yo, this shit sounds amazing” [laughs]…then, come to find out, the guy that did the soundtrack for the television movie was selling it. So I just bought that shit [laughs].”

On G.O.M.D. visual inspiration:

“Well, I struggled, because first of all, I wanted to do like a Hype Williams-style video for this song so bad, because I’ve never done one of those. I felt like if I did do one of those, this would be the song to do it with. So, I battled with that urge to go the typical route with this video, because I feel like that’s what everyone expected. And every video I’ve ever done has never really been expected, so I was just like fuck it, let’s do it. The video is really more of a commentary on the need for unity and togetherness more so than it is a comment on racism, because [the black community] knows—we all know about oppression.”

On Kendrick Lamar similarities:

“I can speak for myself; I can’t speak for another man, but I know what’s in my heart and I know what I want to say and the messages I want to get across. But yeah, we do have conversations when we get together about the same shit that we’re talking about and rapping about. Everything that I’m revealing on my album, I was telling him. Like, “Yo this is what I figured out. I see this shit like this. I might not even be doing this shit no more because I see this.” You know, I’m telling him all this… I’m just explaining to him, like yo, I feel like you can do it. You have the respect of that neighborhood and L.A. on another level. If anybody can come through and put an end to this shit, it gotta be you.”

Read the full interview here.