Since J.Cole founded his label Dreamville Records in 2007, he’s proven that he has a skilled ear for discovering new talent. From Ari Lennox to JID, the lyricist has built an impressive roster.
One of the artists who flew on Cole’s radar early on is Bas, who signed to Dreamville in 2014.
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Although the Sudanese rapper is one of the label’s entrusted signees, he has previously been transparent about coming from humble beginnings.
From Failing College To J. Cole Becoming A Fan
Born in Paris and raised in Queens, Bas didn’t have his eyes on becoming a rapper until he was 23.
After receiving a full scholarship, he attended Hampton University. Despite initially showing promise in his academics before college, he ended up flunking during his freshman year.
“My first semester I had a 0.0 GPA,” he previously shared with The Fader. “I wasn’t going to any of my classes. I was getting high, getting drunk, getting b-tches.”
Bas went on to drop out of school after his first year, which led to almost getting killed due to one of his multiple hustles at the time. He felt he had no direction — that was until he got connected to Cole.
J. Cole Recalls His Introduction To Bas
“The first joint he played me, I was like ‘What the f-ck?’” Cole said, according to the outlet. “I could tell right away, the potential. Some of the flows he was using, words he was putting together. He was kind of naturally talented.”
He continued: “It’s like basketball. You never played a day in your life, and all of a sudden you get on a court and you’re just draining threes. But this was 2010, and you have to remember, I was still knee deep in trying figure out how the fuck do I put out an album.”
The Journey To Success
While not being immediately in the position to sign Bas, Cole kept tabs on the newcomer’s music journey. Once he proved his talent, shadowed his mentor on tour, and Interscope Records offered Cole a label deal in early 2014, he was finally able to give him the proper platform to introduce him to the world.
With a big co-sign from one of the coldest in the game, Bas dropped his debut album, “Last Winter,” in April 2014. The project sold about 3,700 copies in its first week, but it was far from foreshadowing Bas’ trajectory.
“I don’t really give a fuck about the numbers,” Cole said, according to Fader. “It’s an independent mindstate, like we don’t even have a label. We’re taking a very slow and steady route. I just want Bas to focus on making great albums and getting out in front of people. If he gets a radio record, it should be organic, and even then, it’ll be a bonus.”
Fast forward to now, and the 35-year-old has headlined his own tours, garnered millions of views on his music videos via YouTube, built a social media following of nearly one million across Twitter and Instagram, and is a Grammy-nominated artist.
Want to catch Dreamville’s Bas live in action?
Click here to secure a ticket for the 2022 AfroTech Conference — taking place from Nov. 13-17, 2022 — where he is set to rock the music festival’s stage in Austin, TX.
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