This is the first single by American rapper J. Cole, from his second studio album Born Sinner. The love anthem finds Cole reflecting on a teenage crush and when the now successful Roc Nation rapper returns to his hometown, he finds he is still attracted to the doe-eyed girl. The song was released to Urban contemporary radio on February 19, 2013.
Cole raps two verses, as well as co-handling hook duties on the cut with R&B singer Miguel. The rapper also self-produced the song. "I get excited about that; it's an opportunity to change things," he told MTV News. "It's almost like the first time I heard 'Cry Me a River
,' Justin Timberlake. The minute that came on ... It hit you a certain kinda way. That was the exciting part."
It was the song's original sound that persuaded Cole to choose it to lead Born Sinner. "You couldn't point to any song on the radio and be like, 'This sounds like that,' " he told MTV News. "Everything about it, from the beat to even the way I'm flowing - you never really heard me rap so sleepily. I really did those verses in my crib and just loved the way they felt."
Cole originally sang the hook by himself until Roc Nation founder Jay-Z gave him a bit of advice. "When I played it for Jay-Z, his first words were, 'Yo, you should get Miguel on this,'" the rapper recalled to Billboard magazine.
Cole raps in his first verse to his crush that he "even wrote the song 'Dreams' for you." This is a reference to an actual cut "Dreams," that appeared on the rapper's 2009 mixtape, The Warm Up. The track finds Cole fantasizing about murdering the boyfriend of a girl he barely knows, which would then give him the opportunity to console her.
Cole came up with the concept for the video, which sees him kill Miguel over jealousy of his relationship with a woman. It was shot in Cole's hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina except for the final scene where he buries Miguel out in the woods on the outskirts of the city.
It was Jay-Z who persuaded Cole to release this as the lead single from Born Sinner. "There was a point when I almost went with this other song as the [first] single," he explained to MTV News. "My team and people around me were like, 'Yo, you're bugging; you need to go with 'Power Trip.' So I called Mark Pitts, my manager, and he's like, 'You need to call Jay.'"
He added: "His perspective on that - and period, since he's seen so much in the game - he really set me straight and let me know I was bugging. He was like, 'You've got to an opportunity to come in and usher a new sound, go with that!'"
Cole told Rolling Stone that he created the track in his living room. "I made that beat," he said, "wrote that song, recorded the rough version of the vocals in my crib."
The song samples "No More," a track from jazz flautist Hubert Laws' 1972 album Morning Star.
Cole shouts out his landlord, Mohammed, who rented him an apartment in his early days in Jamaica, New York.
"Even back then when I was up there in Mohammed crib
Paying 1700 for the rent, money well spent
No heater, but a n—- made heat, may I vent."
Cole raps that the ridiculous amount he had to pay for rent in New York was money well spent. This was because being in the Big Apple helped him make the connections that eventually landed him his deal with Roc Nation.