David Wolff - Patrick, WireImage
The 26-year-old's tenacity and talent moved him into the running for a trophy come February 2012, however his label boss believes he's already won the accolade.
"I think he already won Best New Artist," Hov tells MTV News. "His journey is... what I'm really excited about. The person he is today is not who he was when he first walked in."
Cole crafted his LP for two years before it was released on Sept. 27. Before its debut, he delivered mixtapes like 'The Warm Up' and 'Friday Night Lights,' among others. His rhymes have since matured, an achievement that is a testament to his artistry states Jay-Z.
"He got a chance to really go out... see what worked, see what people connect to, figure out how he was gonna tell his story," the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation founder stated. "That artist development thing, I think we need more of it. We need to ensure that this thing is around for future generations."
The 'Work Out' MC is up against fellow rap star Nicki Minaj for Best New Artist. The Band Perry, Skrillex and Bon Iver are also competing for the coveted award. The winner of the category will be announced at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, when they air live from the Staples Center at 8PM EST on Feb. 12, 2012.
Watch Jay-Z Speak on J. Cole's 2012 Grammy Nomination
Watch 'A Day in the Life of J.Cole'