J. Cole has made a name for himself over the past decade as a successful figure in the music industry. The North Carolina-bred rapper has released acclaimed albums and take home several awards including a Grammy for his work. But before he was a rapper, Cole was an everyday man trying to pay his bills like everyone else.
J. Cole’s humble beginnings
After Cole graduated from college, he moved back home to North Carolina and worked various part-time jobs as he struggled to get his rap career off the ground.
Some of the jobs Cole had at the time included working as an ad salesman for a newspaper and as a bill collector, though CapitalXtra reports that he admitted he struggled with both jobs.
There was one, however, that took the cake for the most memorable job. According to Complex, Cole once worked at a skating rink in Fayetteville as a teenager — not as an employee behind the counter, but as a kangaroo mascot to entertain the children.
J. Cole went on to become a superstar
Clearly Cole was motivated to ditch the kangaroo suit. He released mixtapes independently in the late 2000s before catching the eye of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation record label. Cole signed with Roc Nation in 2009 and recorded two more mixtapes before releasing his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story in 2011.
In the years since then, Cole has been hard at work building up his Dreamville Records label, which includes artists such as Ari Lennox and EarthGang in its roster. All five of J. Cole’s studio albums have topped the Billboard 200 albums chart, including his Grammy-nominated 2014 Forest Hills Drive.
In 2020, Cole earned his first Grammy Award for his 21 Savage collaboration “A Lot.”
Other stars have dressed up as characters before becoming famous
Everyone has to start somewhere, and Cole is by far the first celebrity to admit to working difficult jobs before becoming famous. He’s not even the first celebrity to have donned an animal suit.
Brad Pitt, for example, has spoken in the past about his time working for El Pollo Loco as El Pollo himself. He put on the iconic yellow chicken suit and danced on the side of the road, often getting middle fingers from drivers passing by. He told Ellen DeGeneres, however, that he has “no shame” in his past, stating simply, “Man’s gotta eat.”
The United States vs. Billie Holiday star Andra Day was also no stranger to putting on costumes for work. She was a children’s party entertainer and dressed up as iconic characters such as Minnie Mouse and Dora the Explorer.