Is J. Cole’s “Hollywood Cole” the Most Misunderstood Lyric in Hip-Hop?

Is J. Cole’s “Hollywood Cole” the Most Misunderstood Lyric in Hip-Hop?

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I’d like to preface this piece of lyrical injustice by saying I’m not here to libel any of the artists that will be mentioned. I just feel it’s my role to educate those who may not be unfamiliar with the origin of a particular sound bite that has reemerged as a nugget of pop culture.

Emcee J. Cole made waves in 2009 with a breakout mixtape, The Warm-Up, and an appearance on Jay-Z’s prophetically titled track “A Star is Born” off The Blueprint 3. As a signee to Jay’s Roc Nation and part of hip-hop’s newest freshman class, J. Cole couldn’t miss. When his first official single “Who Dat?” – a bombastic, clap-ridden, horn-filled banger co-produced by Cole himself – dropped in April 2010 to Internet acclaim, things looked even better.

But wait. What was that at the 2:27 mark?

:http://culturemob.com/wp-content/uploads/jcolemp31.mp3|titles=J.

Is that Cole sampling Andree 3000 off OutKast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious?” I played out the song before going back to check. It’s unmistakably Three Stacks. But I was confused. I had always heard Andre 3000 say “Hollywood Court” through his southern draw. Is this an oversight on J. Cole’s part? Could this be the young gun’s first miscue?

I reached into the iTunes folder to pull up Aquemini. Playing the spoken word classic for the umpteenth time, it still sounds like “Hollywood Court.”

:http://culturemob.com/wp-content/uploads/andre3000mp3.mp3|titles=Andre

Continuing sleuthing, I did my best Wikipedia Brown. Again, “Hollywood Court” was verified by the world’s utmost experts, the Interwebs. Needing more verification I did a simple Google search for “hollywood court atlanta.” The first hit, a Google map of a location west of Midtown Atlanta and across from Magnolia Cemetery.

Just several scrolls down the results list I found more goodies about Hollywood Court. A youtube video gives a short slideshow of the housing as well as dates the complex as being built in 1969 and schedule for demolition in 2009. And like everything else, a facebook page dedicated to the Zone 1 housing units has 501 “likes” as well as a somewhat active wall and discussion boards, not to mention photos of previous tenets and the demolition of the housing.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR3vvl2KJLw

That solidified it for me. Facebook, youtube, Google and various lyric sites have proven that in fact Andre 3000 did mean Hollywood Court.

While I was smitten with myself for 3 minutes of investigation I was also a bit downtrodden. As one of my top up-and-coming emcees and fellow North Carolina native, I felt betrayed that J. Cole could have – in my opinion – so carelessly sampled a heralded emcee like Andre 3000. Are there no copy desks in hip-hop to fact check song content?

My wounded heart soon healed. I respect J. Cole more than most emcees in hip-hop. He, much like Andre 3000, has already distinguished himself to be more than just a rapper. As a composer and lyricist he definitely deserves to be considered an artist. So  I in turn chalked up the cole/court episode as artistic license on J. Cole’s part. He took something and made it his own. He deserves no disrespect for that.

However, I did not feel the same when a track featuring Lil’ Wayne and Drake dropped in August. The song in question, “Right Above It,” is a featured single on Wayne’s I Am Not a Human Being EP and is currently receiving airplay on radio across the country. Guess how Drake opens the first verse?

:http://culturemob.com/wp-content/uploads/drakemp3.mp3|titles=Drake

Really? This is a blatant “Hollywood Cole” and incorrect reference. I’ll admit, when I heard “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” for the first couple times I thought Andre 3000 was saying Cole, as in, a man has just pummeled another and proclaims himself “Hollywood Cole.” Of course the first time I listened to “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” I was also 12, and upon years of “researching” Three Stacks’ inflection and delivery I feel confident that he is in fact saying “court” among the other evidence I have collected and displayed. So what’s Drake’s deal?

I have several theories.

One: Drake has misheard the lyrics the entire time and is simply trying to pay homage to the original and does it incorrectly. Again, if you’re a top musician and know this song will reach the masses, there is no excuse for such oversight. This is when entourages are supposed to step in and stop being “yes” men. Tell dude he effed up. I would hope they would thank you.

Two: Drake is actually shouting out his peer J. Cole. Cole’s song dropped in April and made its rounds in the hip-hop world as well as gained some airplay on urban radio around the country. After this Andre 3000 sample gained new life from “Who Dat?” Drake could easily have had the reference fresh on his mind for lyrics or just wanted to aurally give props to Cole. One hangup in this theory though. Wayne went to jail in March, “Right Above It” was released in August. Drake would not have been able to have heard Cole’s track before recording his verse as Wayne was already in the click when “Who Dat?” was released. Well, I think it’s safe to say we can put that hangup to rest, as Wayne is notorious for his workload. The man recorded enough verses and videos that for his entire stay in prison there would still be new Wayne material being released. It is very possible that Wayne’s verse had long been stashed and Drake recorded after hearing “Who Dat?”

Third: Drake is referencing OutKast but not saying either cole or court, but rather “cold.” I personally do not believe this theory, but lyric sites would make you think this. I honestly thought that this was a very clear case of “Cole” when I first heard the song and never thought of this “cold” take on things. That is until the October 2010 issue of XXL magazine featured “Right Above It” and “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” in its “Swagger Jacker” feature. XXL offered up Andre 3000’s line as the “Lender” while Drake’s was the “Borrower.” The magazine cited Drake’s verse as this: “Who else trying to **** with Hollywood Cole/I’m with Marley G Grover flying Hollygrove chicks to my Hollywood shows.” Interesting, I thought. Never thought of it being “cold” before. Eyes scan over to the Andre 3ooo citation: “Two ****** done start bustin’, and one ***** done took his shirt off, talkin’ ’bout, ‘Now who else wanna **** with Hollywood Cold?” WHAT!? Now this is a respectable, nationwide magazine complicating this whole situation. Never in my “research” did I ever come across any mention of the original lyric to “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” containing “cold.” I will go ahead and say XXL magazine is entirely wrong in its interpretation. Again, where are hip-hop’s copy editors?

I believe that the second Drake theory is the correct one. But I may very well be wrong. Perhaps Andre 3000 never meant to shout out city housing projects in the first place. Maybe Cole got his sample right. I really don’t know.

But I do know this. In terms of history’s misheard lyrics, this example will forever be at the top of my list. Move over Jimi Hendrix and Creedence Clearwater Revival, there’s a new lyric to argue over. Unless all three artists would like to come through with their sides of the stories.

  • Garson

    Because J Cole is on a major label and they know about getting samples cleared, I\’m certain J Cole was aware of what the true lyrics were at some point if he didn\’t already known when he first made the song. Not sure about Drake using it though. Considering the real word is court, I don\’t see how Drake justifies flipping it.

  • Spec

    I think Andre said Hollywood Court. Like many artists, I think Cole took it upon himself to be like, ok it can pass off for Hollywood Cole, and used that for its dopeness especially since Andree said it. Drake is either paying homage two both of them or just Andre and he def wrote it after J Cole. Check out his Tim Westwood freestyle and you’ll see how he uses most of that verse for his feat on Right Above It. Theory #2 is your best bet

    • HowardTheDUck

      There’s no question Drake is tipping his hat to J.Cole here — not Andre 3000. It’s a reference to a song they did together in late 2010 called “In The Morning”.

  • K Earl

    This was a well done and entertaining article. I was bored at wotk one day, and I was curious about the origin of the phrase, and why it is back in circulation.

    Thanks for your prospective. I feel educated now.

  • GDub

    I’ve heard this song on the radio several times now and I think the writer got it wrong. It actually sounds like Drake is saying “Hollywood Court”, but that he’s saying it with a super exaggerated southern accent, he’s trying to sound the way Andre 3000 did. Like he’s saying Hollywood Coat. And I also think J Cole just flipped the lyrics to suit his name. In other words, move along people, nothing to see here, LOL!

  • luislandry

    Don’t remember which but there’s an interview with J Cole where he brought up this line specifically. He knows it’s Hollywood court, but also that it sounds like Cole so he used it specifically because of that.

  • http://www.MajorRecordLabel.com guy from facebook

    hilarious that i hit you up on facebook to give you props for this article before continuing to scroll down to see that i could’ve left a comment here.

    allow me to publicly say you rock for this article. i am a nerd over stuff like this and at the onset of my research, your article came up. this is as thorough as it needs to get [esp. thanks to @Spec’s contribution- took the thoughts outta my head].

    i will take this as a sign to stop procrastinating and get back to studying…

  • no1 listens to jcole

    I think this should actually be titled “Is Andre 3000’s “Hollywood Co__” the Most Misunderstood Lyric in Hip-Hop?”

  • Marcellis

    I’m so glad that there is someone else out there as meticulous as I about this issue! :)

  • HOLLYWOOD COLE

    HOLLYWOOD COLE stay in hollywood courts. But some time he hangs in East Purnt (which is a spot that happens to be in East Point…)
    ROFLZ

  • Carmen

    Thank you for this article. J. Cole acknowledges the true origin and wording of the sample.

  • Victor

    YOU are the master Hip-Hop editor! I found this after hearing the Drake/Weezy song. I’ll be honest, I always thought Andre was saying either Cole or Cold. Thanks for educating me! Good to know that Cole also knew the difference.

  • Me

    I’m from Atlanta…heard this song growing up and never once questioned what Dre said. People often refer to their hoods when fighting. The scene described in the song is that a some type of disturbance or fight commenced and once shots had been fired a guy began to let others know that he (and possibly some other ppl from his hood) were taking care of things…hence “Now who else wanna **** wit Hollywood COURT”. Another dead giveaway is that Dre references Charles Disco…an old Atlanta nightclub. Yeah, he’s clearly making Atlanta references…

  • Zay

    I actually consider myself to be one of OutKast’s biggest fans. And I’ve always visualized the lyrics as someone outside the club taking their shirt off after whooping a couple of ppl, and yelling his name, Hollywood Cole at the top of his lungs. Its surprising to know I have more than likely been wrong in my interpretation of 3000’s lyrics. Im from Texas so the Southern Drawl thing isn’t really what got me. I just think I grew up thinking that it was a person’s name, and bc there was no wiki, google, hell, I don’t even think we had Internet when the song came out, so I never had reason to think he was talking about a hood… Wow…

  • supreme

    I always thought he said Hollwood Coke! Thank you for illuminating me.

  • http://twitter.com/rafunction Rafi

    I honestly thought he was saying Hollywood Cole. Several hip hop blogs took J. Cole’s use of the term as being homage (I’m assuming they thought the lyric was Hollywood Cole as well) Thanks for the enlightenment!