When J. Cole first started rapping, he sounded much more like a 1990's Cash Money Records artist than the rapper his fans know of today. That flow was inspired by Cole's cousin, who got the North Carolina MC started rapping more than 20 years ago.

That's just one fact among plenty even the most diehard J. Cole fans may not know. Throughout his career, the Dreamville Records founder has let loose plenty of personal information about his come up, influences and family life when he was young, but there are still a lot of gems to unearth.

Generally speaking, fans know J. Cole played basketball in high school, got an academic scholarship to attend St. John's University and pursued a rap career while there. What they might not know is the odd jobs he worked before he became a rap star or the album that made him change his rapping style to what it is now. And that's just for the period of time before he blew up.

Since bursting onto the scene after signing a record deal with Roc Nation in early 2009, Cole's collected so many accomplishments that his Wikipedia page reads like a checklist for rap superstar milestones. He's had multiplatinum singles and platinum-selling albums; he's got his own Puma sneaker. The lauded artist has done a lot before and after his rap career started, and now, in celebration of his 36th birthday today, it's time to look at some things you probably didn't know about the Fayetteville, N.C. rapper.

Today, XXL takes a look at 36 surprising facts about J. Cole. Learn about a living rap game legend below.

See 36 Surprising Facts About J. Cole

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