Whether you view it as career suicide or an auspicious move by a precocious lyricist, you can not deny that J. Cole moving his sophomore album Born Sinner up to the same June 18th release date as Kanye West's Yeezus album is an unexpected move. Cole spoke with Billboard.com's The Juice about the move and stated it was premeditated and that he knew about Kanye's release date before the public:
I made one phone call to somebody that would know, just to make sure first. As soon as I got it confirmed, I was like, 'Yo…' The idea hit me instantly: 'You got to go to that date,'
Cole is not oblivious to Kanye's remarkable catalogue of music, deeming it "flawless" but attests that his competitive spirit (and matured understanding of promotion) fueled his desire to compete with the man who has released classic albums such as College Dropout and Late Registration:
"I'm not going to sit [here]... I worked too hard to come a week later after Kanye West drops an amazing album. It'd be like, 'Oh and J.Cole dropped too, a week later.' Nah. I'm going to go see him on that date. He's the greatest. So it's like, I'm a competitor by nature so it was instant, it wasn't even a thought,"
In 2007, Kanye had a similar Soundscan battle with 50 Cent during the promotion of their albums Curtis and Graduation both releasing on September 11th 2007. Kanye won that battle quite handedly with Graduation's 1st week sales clocking in at 957,000 and Curtis' first week sales entering in at 691,000.
Check out J. Cole utterly completely outshine Kanye and Kanye's only collaboration so far off his Friday Night Lights mixtape, entitled "Looking For Trouble" which also features Big Sean, Pusha T and Cyhi The Prince: