When it comes to rap’s leaders of the new school, three names always come to mind.
There’s the rapper-turned-popstar Drake, Compton Spitter Kendrick Lamar, and of course, J. Cole. The 35-year-old has been quiet as of late and hasn’t released much in the way of music since “Middle Child” as we await his latest LP entitled The Fall Off. Despite the lack of recent content, it’s hard to ignore the impact the rapper has had on the game, so fellow North Carolina native and artist JEKS’ decided to pay homage the best way he knew how.
JEKS took his talents to Durham, not far from Cole’s native Fayetteville, to paint a stunning mural in the University Hills section of North Carolina. The vast undertaking wasn’t just a freehand imaginative painting of Cole; rather, it was based on a photo taken by Johnathan Mannion. Mannion is famous in the hip-hop photography world, having worked with stars like Jay Z, Aaliyah, Outkast, Nas, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, and was even the mind behind Beats by Dre’s “Straight Outta” campaign.
The painting features a pensive Cole with his eyes nearly closed as his dreads fall into his face with the crisp blue sky behind him, which is backed by grey gloom.
Once completed, JEKS took to Instagram to show off the portrait, writing “Another collaboration with legendary photographer @jonathanmannion of NC hip-hop legend @realcoleworld for @uhillwalls in Durham NC. It was such an awesome few days surrounded by 40+ other artists killing it. Huge thanks to @abvagency and Xavier for running a tight ship.”
According to ABC 11, plenty of other famous North Carolina folks who’ve changed the world will also be immortalized– like civil rights and women’s rights activist Pauli Murray, fashion journalist Andre Leon Talley, and funk musician and former wife of Miles Davis, Betty Davis.