Five Minutes with J.Cole

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With his debut album Cole World topping the charts,  the US rapper J Cole has been taking the hip-hop world by storm, but nothing prepared him for the reception during his Beats on The Beach performance in Abu Dhabi's Corniche.

Years ago you stood outside Jay Z's office with a mix-tape in your hands. He ignored you and walked on. Now your album debuted at number one, and Jay Z - your label boss - personally congratulated you on the achievement. Does this make the success more sweet?

I never really looked at it like that, but that is a great point. But there are certain moments where you acknowledge things like that. Tonight was one of those on stage when I realised I am in Abu Dhabi, in the Middle East, so far away from home and kids over here know all my words. I just feel blessed.

They were even calling you by your first name, Jermaine.

Yes and that is rare. In the states, if some one calls me by that you kind of wonder what he's on about, but here it's because the fans know you and love the music. It's amazing.

Your album is finally out after all the hype, does it feel great to be touring it now?

It's also great to not just talk about how it's coming out, you know what I mean? It's been two years of those questions so it's just a relief. Now I can concentrate on touring.

You are definitely working hard on your UAE tour, after Beats on The Beach you have to perform at Skybar and then at Etoile in Emirates Palace. That is three shows in six hours!

I don't know if there is anyone touring like me at least at this stage of their career. Even before my album came out I've been touring Europe and the UK and Germany.

Do you get scared of burning out too early?

No. This is all just a set-up for me so I can play bigger shows down the line. If I keep working like this, I hope I can come back three years later to a place like Abu Dhabi and play a show in an arena or a bigger venue.

How do you prepare to perform in countries in the Middle East or Europe where some people not only don't know your music, but the language as well?

Energy is important, as well as passion. In Germany or France, places like this where they don't have to learn English, you are up against that language barrier. Then it's just not about the words; it's just about the energy and passion of your performance. It's about them looking at you and getting in to you, without knowing what you are saying.

Cole World is available at record stores.