Jay Z-approved and three-time number one Billboard-charting rapper J. Cole is getting his own HBO special. Entitled Forest Hills Drive: Homecoming, after the Fayetteville, North Carolina-born rapper’s 2014 record, it will feature J. Cole performing all 13 songs from the LP in his hometown. “The special will be “part concert film, part backstage pass,” according to HBO, and it will tell his life story through interviews with him and his closest friends and family. Drake and Jay Z, who helms the label Roc Nation which put out Forest Hill Drive, will guest on the show.
The commercially successful Forest Hills Drive featured tracks like No Role Modelz, Wet Dreamz, and G.O.M.D. Despite being announced just three weeks before its release and having very little marketing, it sold 350,000 copies, topped the Billboard charts, and became the first record to go platinum without featured guests, according to the press release.
J. Cole, a 2012 nominee for Best New Artist, cites Nas and 2Pac as influences according to Hip Hop DX. “I’ve studied the raw, vicious rappers, the Canibus’s and Eminem’s, and then I’ve studied the storytellers like the 2Pac’s and the Nas’s. I’ve studied all these things and one thing I’ve noticed that I bring to the table … that was not really present [over the past few years] is the storytelling side, and that’s always been a joy of mine.”
While the rapper has a huge, dedicated hip hop fanbase — all three of his records have sold at least 700,000 copies — he hasn’t had a hit pop single yet. This HBO special may help to change that, though.
J. Cole executive produced the HBO special with Ibrahim Hamad and Adam Roy. Scott Lazer directed the production. Forest Hills Drive: Homecoming will air January 9, 2016 at 10 pm ET on HBO.