What better way to get back into hip-hop than to witness two of the game’s finest emcees perform live, fresh off of each of their own new albums?
I couldn’t agree more. And that’s exactly what happened on September 17, 2013 at UNCC’s Halton Arena.
This was the 6th stop on the tour even though the energy level in the building seemed like it was the opening show.
Bas, one of Cole’s boys, was the original opener to the show. We (my girlfriend Amanda and my boy Cory) didn’t quite catch his set so I can’t really get into it that much.
We did however see Wale go HAM on the stage. He came out to “No Hands” and the crowd was singing in unison at the top of their lungs. He then got into some of his Ambition songs: “Slight Work”, “Ambition”, “Bait”, “Lotus Flower Bomb” and “Chain Music”. And fyi, Folarin can cut a rug. He got busy on the stage with the crowd supporting him with “Go Wale Go Wale Go!”. Ralph then got into some of his songs off of #The Gifted: “Rotation”, “Clappers”, “Bad” and “88”.
The absolute highlight of the show came at this point. After “88”, Wale walked off of the stage and went to the back. From our view on the right side of the stage you could see where he went. The stage was in the middle of a basketball arena so it wasn’t your tyipcal backstage area. Plus, Wale had on all white clothes with some Nikes that had an orange and teal glow. I followed the shoes and saw him go up the stairs on our side of the stage and sprint down the aisle behind us separating the lower and upper sections of the crowd. Nobody apparently saw this except the people in the upper area behind us. I could see the eyes bulging and the finger pointing going on as everyone tried to tell the person next to them that Wale was right there! I didn’t waste a second. I tapped Cory and was like DUDE, GO TO THE AISLE NOW. We made it over there and it was perfect timing. The spotlight came to him at the top of the stairs. He busted out “Pretty Girls” as he was walking down the stairs. He was literally right in front of us. Hell, Cory got to dap him up.
It was absolute pandemonium for us. I think Cory was on the verge of fainting. It was hard to even think that the show could get any better.
And then it was Cole’s turn. Fayettenam’s finest. Marijuana blazer. Carolina’s savior.
Let me start by saying that I’ve seen Cole perform about 7 times at different venues at different times in his career. This was nothing like those times. I have seen him with a band before, but this was a full band. Drums, 2 keyboards, guitar, DJ, 2 backup singers. And not only that, there were visuals. It felt like I was watching a VMA type performance.
He opened up with “Trouble”. Afterwards, he addressed the crowd thanking them for coming out and so forth. What he said next I’ll never forget (bc it was hilarious). “I don’t care if my mom’s here tonight, I wanna let yall know I’ve been drinking a lot of henessey….a lot. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trying to go home with something tonight” and then as the crowd was laughing he got into “LAnd of Snakes” which applied to his previous comments.
Next up he addressed the crowd again and dedicated this song to the fans that have been fuckin with him from his days of “The Come Up”, the “Warm Up” and even “Friday Night Lights’. It was “Blow Up” – a personal favorite of mine. He set the place off.
He followed up by doing “Nobody’s Perfect” & “Work Out” from the debut album before getting into a multitude of songs from #BornSinner: “Mo Money”, “Ain’t That Some Shit”, “Runaway”, “She Knows” and “Forbidden Fruit”.
Cole then brought his boy Bas back on stage and they did Bas’ song “Lit”. I have to say I never heard that song before then. But after hearing Cole’s verse, it was an immediate download when I got home. I highly encourage any Cole fans to at least give it a listen. And throw some support to a fellow Dreamvillian, Bas. We got to meet him after the show and he was a really nice guy. I’m looking forward to listening to more of his music.
Next up, “Villuminat”, “Rich Niggaz”, “Lights Please” and then two tracks off of a very underrated EP, #TrulyYours2: “Kenny Lofton” and “Chris Tucker”. Cole then performed “Can’t Get Enough” and brought the show home with “Crooked Smile” and lastly, “Power Trip”.
I have to say that during this show you could feel the energy all around you. The lights, the visuals, the smoke from the stage, the blasting bass, the guitar riffs, the melodies, the crowd rocking back and forth, up and down….This was not just a concert. This was an experience, and as Cole himself put it: A Journey.
I strongly encourage anyone to make the trip to a tour stop near you. You won’t regret it.