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J. Cole Says White Rappers And R&B Singers Have "Snatched The Sound" Of Black Music

On his volatile new song "Fire Squad."

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Jay Z protege and sometime activist J. Cole's new album 2014 Forest Hills Drive leaked online this week, and one track in particular is already causing controversy.

Called "Fire Squad," the song calls out popular white artists like Macklemore, Iggy Azalea, Justin Timberlake, and Eminem — comparing them to Elvis and alleging that they've "snatched the sound." Here's the relevant (explicit) verse in full.

J. Cole / Via genius.com

On the song, Cole imagines a scenario in which Iggy Azalea beats him out for a Grammy, recalling the Grammy Awards from earlier this year where Macklemore won Best Rap Album for The Heist over fan favorite Kendrick Lamar.

That incident, and Azalea's popularity this year, reignited a long-standing debate about whether white rappers and R&B singers are interlopers in historically black genres.

The song comes at a particularly charged political moment when racial tensions are running high in the country due in part to a string of high-profile incidents of police brutality.

Cole wrote the above song, "Be Free," after unarmed black teenager Mike Brown was slain by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, in August. This week, the rapper was seen marching with protesters in New York following a grand jury's failure to indict NYPD police officer Daniel Pantaleo for putting Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black father of six, in a fatal chokehold.

.@JColeNC is out marching with NYC protesters. #EricGarner (via @QuikWest)

Complex @ComplexMagFollow

.@JColeNC is out marching with NYC protesters. #EricGarner (via @QuikWest)

10:49 PM - 03 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Reactions on Twitter have been polarized. Some are in J. Cole's camp...

J.Cole is NOT hating on whites. He's pointing out that HipHop music has been co-opted by some white people and they are having great success

Blame Ebro el Viejo@oldmanebroFollow

J.Cole is NOT hating on whites.
He's pointing out that HipHop music has been co-opted by some white people and they are having great success

9:20 AM - 03 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

People are really acting like @JColeNC made a mistake with Fire Squad? You're all crazy!! He was being real. I'm all about that track!

Pantelis@BigP4HFollow

People are really acting like @JColeNC made a mistake with Fire Squad? You're all crazy!! He was being real. I'm all about that track!

1:00 PM - 03 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

If you truly believe @JColeNC was "attacking"all the white artist he named in that verse.YOU JUST HEARD HIM. YOU NOT REALLY LISTENING THOUGH

➰Shan_tel✨@H3YLiGHTSKiNFollow

If you truly believe @JColeNC was "attacking"all the white artist he named in that verse.YOU JUST HEARD HIM. YOU NOT REALLY LISTENING THOUGH

9:18 AM - 04 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

J. Cole isn't about dissing JT, Iggy, Macklemore etc. it's admitting they have white privilege.

igloo brizalea.@bigshitxtalkerFollow

J. Cole isn't about dissing JT, Iggy, Macklemore etc. it's admitting they have white privilege.

10:37 AM - 03 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Lmaoooo wow J. Cole came at the white rappers on Fire Squad. I love it.

Young Yehowa@deezydothisFollow

Lmaoooo wow J. Cole came at the white rappers on Fire Squad. I love it.

4:30 AM - 03 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

While others took exception to the song, claiming racism on J. Cole's part.

Not reverse.Just racism. "@DylonMyers: @JColeNC & @AZEALIABANKS r hypocrites being reverse-racist about @Eminem @jtimberlake "white people."

Kenna@OKKennaFollow

Not reverse.Just racism. "@DylonMyers: @JColeNC & @AZEALIABANKS r hypocrites being reverse-racist about @Eminem @jtimberlake "white people."

2:40 PM - 05 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

That's racist though... @JColeNC

If a white rapper called out black artists like j cole did, it would be racist.....

ESPEY HiGHROLLER@_Espey_Follow

If a white rapper called out black artists like j cole did, it would be racist.....

9:29 PM - 03 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Didn't know a race could own a genre of music and if any1 else makes music from that genre its "stealing" thanks for clearing that up J Cole

Sergio Reynoso@bigserge94Follow

Didn't know a race could own a genre of music and if any1 else makes music from that genre its "stealing" thanks for clearing that up J Cole

10:54 PM - 03 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

lol if j Cole dont want white ppl 2 rap then darius rucker not allowed 2 make country ahahahha

RICH BOY HENNE$$¥@wavyjesus420Follow

lol if j Cole dont want white ppl 2 rap then darius rucker not allowed 2 make country ahahahha

9:34 PM - 04 Dec 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The artists in question have yet to respond to J. Cole's comments.

Though some fans are already predicting lyrical retaliation.

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