January 28th

Album: 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Jermaine 'J' Cole was born on January 28, 1985 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. As well as titling this track after his birthday, Cole also named the album after his childhood home.
  • Cole is signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation and the North Carolina rapper considers his label boss to be his mentor. Hova previously released "December 4," named after his own birthday, on The Black Album. Interestingly both cuts are the second track on their respective records.
  • Cole reminisces on the laid-back cut about some late friends as well as addressing his success and music industry politics. He ends the track by comparing himself to "the great Rakim" who was also born on January 28th - 17 years before the North Carolina rapper. He explains that the only rap gods were born on the titular date.
  • The song contains a sample of "Sky Restaurant," written by Japanese singer Yumi Matsutoya and composer Kunihiko Murai, which was performed by Japanese chorus group Hi-Fi Set. J. Cole's people struggled to get in touch with the writers and the sample was only cleared at 2 a.m., just seven hours before the album's deadline. Cole references the difficulties clearing the sample on the outro to "Note to Self," when he raps:

    As we speak the last sample just cleared
    Thank you to whoever in Japan, just cleared that s--t

Comments: 1

  • Morgan Morty from Namibia , Rundu I'm your biggest fan....
see more comments

Editor's Picks

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song Spoofs

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song SpoofsSong Writing

When singers started spoofing their own songs on Sesame Street, the results were both educational and hilarious - here are the best of them.

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About Transgenderism

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About TransgenderismSong Writing

A history of songs dealing with transgender issues, featuring Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Morrissey and Green Day.

John Doe of X

John Doe of XSongwriter Interviews

With his X-wife Exene, John fronts the band X and writes their songs.

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World

Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat WorldSongwriter Interviews

Jim talks about the impact of "The Middle" and uses a tree metaphor to describe his songwriting philosophy.

Frankie Valli

Frankie ValliSong Writing

An interview with Frankie Valli, who talks about why his songs - both solo and with The Four Seasons - have endured, and reflects on his time as Rusty Millio on The Sopranos.

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"

Dean Friedman - "Ariel"They're Playing My Song

Dean's saga began with "Ariel," a song about falling in love with a Jewish girl from New Jersey.