Cole World, Cole Life, Cold-blooded. That is the mentality the Charlotte Hornets need to turn their franchise around and get back to the playoffs after a seven-year drought.
Lucky for them, J. Cole himself will be part of the team as it was announced Friday that the rap superstar is part of the ownership group that will purchase Michael Jordan’s majority share in the franchise.
Cole is a homegrown talent from North Carolina, growing up in Fayetteville, also home of UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond. The multiplatinum artist frequently references his hometown in his lyrics. He hosts his annual Dreamville Fest featuring music’s top acts in Raleigh and he performed at halftime of the 2019 All-Star Game in Charlotte.
While Cole probably won’t need to completely rebrand the team as Jay Z did with the Brooklyn Nets, he could potentially be a face of the franchise, as his mentor was with his one-fifteenth of one percent ownership of the New York team.
Here are three ways J. Cole can give the Charlotte Hornets a boost with his ownership:
J. Cole can write and record an official Charlotte Hornets anthem
J. Cole has established himself as one of the greatest rappers of the current generation. He’s been nominated for 16 Grammys — winning the award for Best Rap Song with 21 Savage for “A Lot” in 2020 — and has famously gone platinum with no features with three consecutive albums.
Several star musicians have created songs for their favorite or hometown teams. In the NFL, Lil Wayne has recorded “Green and Yellow” for the Green Bay Packers and Tech N9ne released “Red Kingdom” for the Kansas City Chiefs. Dee-1 is part of the New Orleans Saints legacy with “Bring ‘Em to the Dome” and last year, he did the New Orleans Pelicans intro song with legendary producer Mannie Fresh.
It only makes sense for Cole to grace his hometown team with an anthem. There are plenty of players in franchise history and currently on the roster to name drop and have some word play with: Alonzo Mourning, Muggsy Bogues, Gerald Wallace, Larry Johnson, Kemba Walker, Mason Plumlee and LaMelo Ball. There might not be much to do with the blue and purple colors, but there’s lots of lyric potential with the Hornets buzzing.
After a 27-55 season finishing second from the bottom in the Eastern Conference, perhaps a drum-filled J. Cole anthem a la “Land of the Snakes” or a horn-infused slapper like “Middle Child” would help boost the team to create its own “Sideline Story.”
J. Cole can do a merch collab between his Dreamville brand and the Charlotte Hornets
If a team has cool merchandise, it’s a huge opportunity to bring in revenue and expand the brand. Jay Z knew what he was doing by rebranding the Nets to black and white, aligning with a classic hip-hop look that partially made the Los Angeles-Oakland-Las Vegas Raiders so popular. The Nets doubled their sales upon revealing the new look and were the top-selling team in all of the NBA.
J. Cole has already established himself as a paradigm of the new cozy cool, wearing sweats courtside and crocs while performing. His Dreamville brand has been with him every step of his musical career and fans have flocked to purchase every little thing he drops. A recent collab with Mitchell & Ness was released a second time because the first round sold out so quickly.
Slap the Dreamville logo on blue and purple shirts — and maybe have a black one with a color logo, too — and the fans will eat it up. Make limited quantities and put the season date in the bottom corner like a jersey tag then you can make it an annual thing to keep people coming back for more.
J. Cole can solidify his role as an NBA scout and create a pipeline to the Charlotte Hornets
J. Cole recommended Caleb Martin to the Miami Heat and the undrafted player turned into one of their secret weapons as they marched through the Eastern Conference finals and became only the second No. 8 seed team in league history to reach the NBA Finals. Against the Boston Celtics, Martin averaged 19.3 points and 6.4 rebounds, including 25 points off the bench in Game 2 and 26 points and 10 rebounds in the starting lineup in Game 7.
Former NBA star Caron Butler now serves as an assistant coach for the Heat and was the one Cole called to recommend Martin. He told ESPN that the suggestion wasn’t the rapper’s first.
Cole is a basketball player himself, passing up an opportunity to play college ball at St. John’s University to focus on his music career and recently playing in the Basketball Africa League with the Rwanda Patriots. He owns a gym in North Carolina where he lets players he knows train.
While he doesn’t hold the title of general manager or head coach, being part-owner of the Hornets now gives him a unique position to create a pipeline for the players he believes in.