Rapper J Cole faces fierce backlash for ‘transphobic’ lyrics on Kendrick Lamar diss track ‘Pi’

Recording artist J. Cole performs on day one of Lollapalooza on July 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. He is wearing a bulls T-shirt and holding a microphone.

US rapper J Cole surprised fans by dropping his new project Might Delete Later on Friday (5 April), but almost immediately drew condemnation due to what people are describing as transphobic lyrics on his track “Pi”.

J Cole was originally mentored by Jay-Z, but in recent years the “Middle Child” and “Deja Vu” hitmaker has turned away from mainstream commercial success and began to forge his own path: a path that has recently led to a very public beef with fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar.

The lyrics on his song “Pi” appear to be attacking a “random trans man”: “Is you a demon or is that demeanor for the ‘Gram? Tell us/They plead the fifth, I’m seeing hints of a trans fella,” J Cole raps. “In cancel culture’s vicinity, he’s no killer, trust me/Beneath his chosen identity, there is still a p***y, period,” reports XXL.

People quickly to X/Twitter to call J Cole out for the ‘transphobic’ lyrics, with one of the top replies reading: “We gonna look back at this one day and say ‘Damn J Cole really went after a random trans man cause of a Kendrick diss.'”

Another said: “J Cole using trans bars against Kendrick is not smart considering Kendrick had a whole song dedicated to his trans family members on his last album. He told us his Auntie is a man now & he popped off on the pastor for bothering his cousin… so? Hmm not very smart. Sad actually!”

The comments are referencing the fact that in May 2022, Kendrick Lamar released a track called “Auntie Diaries”, in which he discusses his journey in accepting his trans family members. 

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper opened up about his own past prejudices, and how he’s “old enough to understand now”. He rapped about his close relationship with his “auntie”, a trans man, who “cut my hair at the pad” and was the “first person I seen write a rap”.

He also rapped about other family members rejecting his relative, but says he “took pride” in embracing him.

What did Kendrick say to J Cole?

Kendrick Lamar raps on stage while wearing a black shirt and a brown pants
Kendrick Lamar opened up about his journey fighting prejudice and accepting his trans family members in the song, “Auntie Diaries”. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Drake, Kendrick Lamar and J Cole are all currently beefing: a row that was triggered by an innocuous Drake lyric praising his competitors, reports the BBC.

Drake released his eighth album in October 2023, which featured a collab with J Cole called “First Person Shooter,” where he refers to himself and his two fellow rappers as the “big three.”

“Love when they argue the hardest MC / Is it K. Dot [Kendrick]? Is it Aubrey [Drake]? Or me? / We the big three, like we started a league.”

But Kendrick Lamar hit back at that concept. In early April rappers Metro Boomin’ and Future released a collaborative album called Like That. Kendrick added an expletive-filled verse that claimed there was no “big three – it’s just big me”. He also appeared to threaten Drake and J Cole’s relatives, in an escalation of the feud.

‘Pi’ lyrics in full

[Verse 1:]
The criteria for this tier is just a open pride
Hope and cries, but so can I
I drop the unprovoken crimes
Pray to the heaven, God, with no disguise
We roll the dice and hope the soul unties
Reap the fruit with no bow tie
Sensitive Pisces, still thuggin’, baby, ain’t ‘fraid to cry
Skinny, biggy, lens is tinted, ain’t got no lazy eye
Heart of gold, almost sold it in Saudi Arabia
Quill told me the clouds ain’t real, God gotta paint the sky
So I’m a student of Sophia Stewart, the Matrix ain’t a lie
Tainted Gods fall from the sky
Tie in inception
When you wake inside this dream, you a weapon
Step in the cypher, know the beef real
Your life at stake, ages with each meal
Real estate of mind, you need equity? Let the beat build
Poison in my cup, I need to refill
I feel it in my gut, you niggas meek still
I inherit the Earth
Like three wise men pulled up to cherish my birth
They placed me in a manger, wasn’t that major at first
But what a mess I’ll leave, I’m the savior at work
I ain’t sayin’ I’m Jesus
Got the job of the messiah, Ty and Joe, we block all devils
Get y’all shovels, can ya dig it?
We gon’ riot if y’all pick it
Sign of danger, oh, we anger from my past, can’t get past that
We the last batch and the cause installed, we got Black facts
Grow a spinal cord or backtrack
The homies call me Batman, I’m the African Ben Affleck
Publishin’ some other shit, like is something up with ASCAP?
It’s training day, don’t get your ass capped
Givenchy snapback with the rindstones, you ain’t never had that
Was at Saks Fifth with Doe, that’s a double entendre
Everything I say is dope, is this a microphone or contra?
Bands in my pocket
See what they told Malcolm X to do with his hands?
That shit was out of pocket
Picked up shotguns that came in handy, wasn’t no plan B
Kid gone, who can f**k with him? Knew them shots would muzzle him
Knew the blocks would puzzle him
Let’ go stupid because of him
Shells fallin’ like Nephilim
Gilgamesh, who can f**k with him?

[Verse 2:]
Oh, y’all thought we was done wit’ em? Huh
Y’all must be stupid, we finna go dumb on ’em
Just keep your ears open like Dumbo and them
Good luck to them, it’s up for them
Piece of the pie edge, we gon’ crumble ’em
Three fourteen on the guy head when we rumble ’em
Hahaha, on second thought, that’s enough for them
Nah, you gotta chill, bro (Hahaha)

She makes a tear fall from my eye
Ah, man, I wish it was the rain
You gotta reach out to them
She makes the rain fall from my eye

[Verse 3: J. Cole]
Uh, prayer hands for the land where they sprayin’ pellets
And turning your mans to an angelic
Being and freeing him from this crammed, hellish hole
The weather’s cold from jealous souls that fanned fellas
I danced as well as Chris Breezy when the bullets start strayin’ careless
I won’t let him Swiss cheese me, got plans that I can’t fail at
Seen plenty bodies trembling, resembling Cam Reddish
So full of potential, but never given a real chance to develop
My head envelops the pen, these ain’t fan letters I craft
His album dropped, it was trash
I litter it like I can’t spell it
Is you a demon or is that demeanor for the ‘Gram? Tell us
They plead the fifth, I’m seeing hints of a trans fella
In cancel culture’s vicinity, he’s no killer, trust me
Beneath his chosen identity, there is still a p***y, period
Blood spillin’ monthly, rather weekly as a myriad of bodies drop
Where bricks get karate chopped to maximize the dojo, comprende
I wonder, will my friends make it past the pearly gates, so we could kick it
But based on what their sins say, probably not
Hit lick after lick like a lollipop
You niggas take a lie detect’, the polygraph’ll probably pop
You know my zone, I live here at the top
Right now, I’m home alone, Macaulay cot
I keep the shotty cocked in ‘case somebody plot to rob me of this godly spot
Jermaine monstrous
Like that nigga off Jumanji, they know how he rock
All these bodies I done caught, I should probably stop
Nah, f**k that, I willingly venture into a den full of lions
On some kill or be sent to a funeral home facility
To test my ability with this thrilling agenda
But it’s hard to meet my match when my raps ain’t really that tender
Since birth, the kid knew his worth
Never wallowed in sorrow, the game he dispersed
In these verses, bring a gillie potential, a milli’ from pencils
Never will my ability cripple
Now please, hold yo’ L like you guardin’ Philly’s young center
Quick to leave a chick curved
It’s only one of me, but bet it’s like six hers
In my mobile device, you feel the motive in these quotables, right?
Cole is the nicest, but ain’t shit about these vocals polite
Focusin’ like bifocals while I’m walkin’ on tightropes from a height
You folks’ll only get this scope from a flight
How many “Verses Of The Year” this year is Cole gonna write? Uh

You know that I do believe, she
She makes a tear fall from my eye
Falling, I
You know that I do believe, she, I