Me, writing another article about J. Cole? Surprise, surprise. My other articles talked about all Cole does besides music and his documentary. Now, I want to talk about how J. Cole is arguably one of the best performers.
Given my immense love and appreciation towards Cole, you might think I’m biased but just read on and form your own opinion.
Yesterday, July 11th at The Forum, I got to experience listening to Cole live for the third time. My first Cole concert was the 2014 Forrest Hills Dr. Tour. I had the worst seats ever but it was still an experience. Since the album by the same title was all about his home and were he comes from, the set up at the concert showcased that. The album cover shows Colesitting on top of his childhood home’s rooftop so at the concert there was a rooftop on the stage. There was even a street sign reading Forest Hills Dr.
The second time I saw him was at Air + Style. Since itwas a festival, he had a regular stage. There was no props or anything extravagant. That’s understandable since it was not his festival he probably had no creative control over it.
Last night, Cole really outdid himself. For those that don’t know, his newest album, 4 Your Eyez Only, is a album talking about a lot of Black issues, primarily incarceration and drugs. So what did Cole do? Well, he made his grand entrance by the floor seats, which is never really done, and some fans were able to touch his hand as he walked by to go to the stage. He didn’t have his usual outfit of long shorts, a tee, and some sneakers. This time he stood out wearing a bright orange prison jumpsuit with the words “Property of” on the back. He was handcuffed, then unhandcuffed right before he took the stage.
So, let’s talk about the stage. The square stage had prision lights, cameras on every corner and barbed wire all around. Yes, the stage was filled with props to make it look like a prison. Cole stayed in the prison jumpsuit all night and every time one of his lyrics mentioned prison he pointed at his jumpsuit.
Cole explained the meaning behind his song Neighbors and showed live footage of his home-turned-studio getting raided because his white neighbors thought he was selling drugs. He also took the time to talk to us all and give us beautiful words of encouragement.
Another thing that really struck me is that Cole performed his whole album. He explained that people don’t really do that because as an artist, it’s scary to perform a song you worked hard on and see people not vibe or enjoy it as much as the #1 radio hit. But, he also said that if he put his whole heart into song then it’s only right he perform the whole album. The crowd had no issue with that.
My point is, I’ve been to many concerts and I have never really seen an artist bring an album to life the way Cole does. The props, the wardrobe, the energy, and the explaining of songs add to the experience. With his great story telling abilities and the visuals he puts on in concerts, it’s no doubt that overtime I listen to 4 Your Eyez Only the concert will replay in my head over and over. If you’re a Cole fan and ever have the chance to see him in concert, I highly, highly suggest you take it.