J. Cole – 4YEO World Tour

I’ve been putting off doing this review for a few months now, and for that I apologize, so without any further ado, here it is:

On June 18th I had the distinct pleasure to see J. Cole perform at the Cone Denim Entertainment Center in Greensboro, NC. But before we get into that, let’s back things up for a minute.

This past December, Fayetteville’s own J. Cole released his 4th studio album entitled 4 Your Eyez Only. While a huge J. Cole fan, I admittedly enjoyed this album the least compared to his previous 3 albums. Now I’m not saying that the album is bad, or of any lesser quality, I just felt that as a whole it wasn’t as enjoyable as his previous works. Outside of “Neighbors”, there really aren’t any “hit singles” or mainstream friendly tracks that you find yourself wanting to play over and over again. However, this project has depth, and the concept behind it is quite personal. The album follows the story of a young man, as he goes from selling crack, to falling in love and starting a family. In the final track, it is revealed that he has died, and almost the entire album is a tape he created for his daughter to listen to after he’s gone. Listeners come to find out that this story is actually about a real life friend of Cole’s, and in that moment everything seems to come to a halt. Reality check. These aren’t made up stories to sell records. These are the struggles of everyday life for some people. People that while villainized by the media, are really just human, and trying to do the best that they can to provide for themselves and their families.

Back to the tour. When the dates were initially announced, I knew I had to attend one of the shows. The first 13 dates would take place in smaller, more intimate venues and there would only be Dreamville artists as scheduled opening acts. The next set of dates would take place in arenas across the US, with Bas and Anderson .Paak set to open. And the final leg of the tour would go across the pond to large venues throughout Europe.

4YEO Tour Poster

I personally enjoy shows at smaller venues for the intimate experience. There’s nothing wrong with arena tours at all (I go to those too), it’s just how I feel. So when the presale tickets went up, I was scouring Livenation for tickets to the closest smaller venue show. After battling bots online for roughly 10 minutes and temporarily losing my mind thinking I would never get tickets, I landed 2 seats to a show in Greensboro, NC at a venue that holds roughly 2,000-3,000 people. I was ecstatic.

Fast forward a few weeks, and my wife and I are making the one and a half hour trip from Charlotte to Greensboro, bumping nothing by J. Cole the entire way. We made our way into the venue after catching a few drinks with some of her college friends in that neck of the woods, and found our seats. You could feel a buzz in the room. J. Cole was back in NC, performing songs about providing for your family and the joy of having a daughter, on Father’s Day. The anticipation was real.

After Dreamville artists (and opening acts) Lute, Ari Lennox, and J.I.D [who has made quite a buzz for himself with his debut album, The Never Story] cleared the stage, Jermaine came to the stage ushered in by a roar from the crowd. Not a single person was sitting down. He greeted the crowd with a crooked smile, and began to go through his set. One thing I’ve always thought about J. Cole is that no matter how the song may feel or sound when you listen to it in your car, or on your phone, when you see it performed live, it’s completely different. For example, the song “Ville Mentality” is slow, and a bit depressing. It’s not a song you would really look forward to hearing at a show. When performed live though, Cole gets the audience involved and has them singing along and you no longer have those same thoughts. J. Cole gets slapped with the “boring rapper” tag to the point where it’s almost a meme, but his live performances are truly top notch. I’ve been to 85+ shows spanning many genres of music, and he is consistently one of, if not the best showman that I’ve seen. He finds a way to transform his sound and somehow make everything enjoyable. I’m obviously a bit biased here, but I think what makes this possible is that during the show, you realize how likeable of a person Cole really is. The banter with the crowed throughout the show gives you a feel for the kind of person he is. So as the show goes on, you want to like everything, even if you didn’t when you initially stepped through the venue’s doors. He’s a genuine, down to earth guy, and I think that makes it very easy for an audience to relate to him.

With regard to the set, Cole had a little bit of everything in store for us. He played songs from each of his 4 albums, including “Lights Please”, “Nobody’s Perfect”, “Power Trip”, “No Role Modelz”, “A Tale of 2 Citiez” and “Love Yourz”. One of the songs I was looking forward to the most was “Neighbors”, and Cole did not disappoint. IMO, these are all fantastic songs and I love each and every one of them, however the moment that really struck me was his final song.

Cole performed the title track to his most recent album, “4 Your Eyez Only” in its 9+ minute entirety. He told fans that he wouldn’t be returning for any encore, so

“if you don’t want to hear somebody running through some real sh*t for eight minutes and really give you a story, this is your time to beat the traffic.”

It was heartfelt, and simply raw. The ending line was really what got me when I first listened to the song, and hearing it live had the same affect: “Yo daddy was a real n*gga cause he loved you”. Powerful stuff right there.

The tour is still going on right now in the US, so if you have the ability to catch one of his upcoming shows, I would strongly suggest making it happen. If you’re any kind of hip-hop fan, even if you don’t like J. Cole’s music that much, get yourself a cheap seat in the nosebleeds to one of the dates and go in with an open mind. What I said previously will really start to make a lot more sense.


J. Cole: The Forest Hills Drive Tour

FHD Tour Poster

FHD Tour Poster

Last night I had the opportunity to witness my favorite artist, J. Cole, put on one of the most entertaining and heartfelt performances that I’ve ever seen or experienced. Because he is my favorite artist, I am a bit biased, so I’ll try to keep things as objective as possible. I just can’t make any promises. For those that don’t know, J. Cole has been headlining the Forest Hills Drive Tour across the nation to support his latest album of the same name. The tour was composed of 3 Acts:

Act 1: Hometown – Cole and his crew of Dreamville artists (Cozz, Omen and Bas) played smaller venues throughout the country.

Act 1

Act 1

Act 2: The Journey – Cole’s second leg of the tour went abroad and featured Jhené Aiko and Pusha T.

Act 2

Act 2

Act 3: Hollywood – The final leg of Cole’s tour came back to the US and now went to much larger venues than Act 1. This leg of the tour picked up Jeremih, YG and Big Sean as supporting acts.

Act 3

Act 3

Last night’s show was part of Act 3, which is drawing to a close and will rightfully be wrapping up August 29th in Cole’s hometown of Fayetteville, NC.

The show began around 6:30pm with Cole’s crew of Dreamville artists: Cozz, Omen and Bas. I was still tailgating in the parking lot when these guys started to perform so I did miss their set. However, I was able to get to the show in time to catch the next act: YG!

Bompton’s own came out while the crowd was still filing in but held down a respectable mini set that was about 8-10 songs deep. The majority of his songs all stemmed from his 2014 Grammy snubbed album, My Krazy Life. However, he did sprinkle in a few throwbacks/crowd pleasers such as “Toot It & Boot It”. I was pleasantly surprised when YG performed his newest single from his upcoming sophomore album, “Twist My Fingaz”. It’s got a sound that instantly makes you think of Snoop Dogg or Dr. Dre in the early 90’s, gold 88 spoke Dayton rims and low-riders cruising the block in the California sunshine. Seriously, YG couldn’t be more west coast if he tried.



Next up was Jeremih. I have some Jeremih songs here and there on my iPod, but the majority of the songs I have feature him on the hooks. Jeremih got us all together in his Delorean and cranked it to 87 because he took us all the way back to 2009 with his smash hit “Birthday Sex”. This wasn’t the only trick Jeremih had up his sleeves though. Natalie La Rose made a surprise guest appearance and they performed their joint hit “Somebody” that’s taking over pop radio. And the crown jewel of his set for me was his DJ Mustard produced hit, “Don’t Tell ‘Em” which he performed last, with a little help from YG who came back to the stage to do his verse.

After Jeremih’s set ended, an intermission began. The stage hands got to work putting up a new set for the next performer, Big Sean. We used this time to hit the restrooms, get a quick bite to eat, and of course refill the beverages which seemed to be disappearing at an alarming rate. Weird.

After all of that and a little bit of milling around, the fans were shown the new set which featured the front of a liquor store, aptly named “Paradise Liquor”. At that moment, the horns began on the Mike Will produced banger, “Paradise”. Big Sean immediately ripped into his first verse and the spotlights started going crazy. The energy level skyrocketed. He performed his second verse on the song as well and I have to say, it’s straight FIRE.

Sean went through a multitude of songs from various projects. Some were from Dark Sky Paradise, some were from Finally Famous: The Album, some were from GOOD Music’s Cruel Summer and some were from Hall of Fame. Honestly, Big Sean put down one hell of a performance. The crowed was into it and you could see him feeding off of the energy. Not every song played was necessarily a banger or wildly popular radio hit though. Sean took a moment to get personal with the fans when he played “One Man Can Change the World” during which the fans held up lighters/cell phones to illuminate the sky. It was a pretty cool moment. To be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting somebody as big as Big Sean to be an opener. He’s probably not too far off from having tours of his own at venues like these, so adding him to the lineup was absolutely a gift to the fans. I wasn’t able to get great photos of Sean Don, but I did nab some off of his IG account:



And of course the obligatory video of “IDFWU”.

After another set change, the time had come for Carolina’s finest. The intro on FHD started playing and J. Cole came out to an uproar of applause. From that point on, Cole went song by song through his entire album. THE WHOLE ALBUM (except “Note to Self”). Things went wayyyy up went he played “A Tale of Two Citiez”.

Another moment that really got the crowd’s attention was during “Fire Squad” where Cole rearranged a few of the lyrics. In the song, his line is:

“This year I’ll prolly go to the awards dappered down
Watch Iggy win a Grammy as I try to crack a smile”

Vs. what he actually said:

“Watch Iggy lose a Grammy as a n*gga crack a smile”

See if you can catch it:

After this, Cole switched things up and detoured from FHD to some throwbacks which got a huge response from the crowd and sparked a sing-a-long to “Lights Please” and the hook of “Nobody’s Perfect”. After those songs it was back to business, and he continued to perform the remainder of the album. It wasn’t just a show for Cole though. He didn’t just go from one song to the next to the next and say thanks for coming out at the end. He took the time to share personal stories with the fans between songs that really gave you a glimpse of who he is as a person, which in turn makes you appreciate his music that much more. I think one of the songs I appreciate the most is “Love Yourz”, which truly has a special meaning for anyone going through hard times. It’s inspiring and makes you realize how blessed you are to have the people currently in your life, in your life. Cole ended his set with that song and since it was dark outside, it was to the illumination of cellphones and lighters once again.


Cole said his goodbyes and proceeded to exit the stage. He might have fooled me if this was the first time I had seen him perform. Jermaine is a sucker for an encore performance, especially when 20,000 people are all chanting his name. He came back out and played 5 more songs for us, including another appearance from Jeremih when they did their song “Planes”. Cole ended the night with “Crooked Smile” and “Power Trip”, both of which are classics in my book.


Thinking back on it all, I truly think this may have been the best performance I’ve seen from him. His ability to go back and forth with the fans has gotten better which each tour and there’s no down time or awkward pauses during the show – it’s completely fluid. You’re standing on your feet with your hands raised above your head singing and rapping along to all the songs and before you know it, an hour and a half has gone by – in the blink of an eye. I think that speaks volumes about his stagemanship and the way that he has mastered his craft. Those abilities combined with the way that he addresses the fans through his stories between songs really makes you feel connected with him and gives you a feeling of being comfortable with him – like he’s a friend of yours that you haven’t seen in a while and you’re just happy to see each other and start catching up – it’s all good vibes and positive energy with Cole.

On a more personal note, it still blows my mind to think back on the journey that he’s made with his career. 3-4 years ago I can still remember going to see him perform for the first time at the Fillmore in Charlotte – a venue that sells out at 2,000 people. His first studio album dropped 2 weeks prior to the show, so he was playing music from that as well as his Friday Night Lights mixtape. There were even a few gems from the Warm Up tossed in the show. Fast forward a few years and he’s performing material from his sophomore album in venues like UNCC’s Halton Arena that holds somewhere around 7,000 people for concerts. One year later brings us to last night’s show, and now Cole is performing at a venue that holds 20,000 people. I heard two weeks ago that Cole even sold out Madison Square Garden – 30,000 fans. It’s pretty incredible to sit back and reflect on it all: the music, the growth, the maturity and the message. He truly is one of a kind.

On the off chance that there are any haters out there still reading this who might say Cole is boring, his music will put you to sleep, etc: go to a show. I guarantee your opinion will change.

Lastly, for those curious, I do have the entire Forest Hills Drive Tour Setlist:


1. BPT
2. Just Wanna Party
3. Do It To Ya
4. Bicken Back Bein Bool
5. B*tches Ain’t Shit
6. Twist My Fingaz
7. My N*gga
8. Who Do You Love?


1. Down On Me
2. Imma Star
3. “Somebody” w/ Natalie La Rose
4. Hook from MMG/Wale’s “That Way”
5. Hook from MMG’s “Body Like a Benz”
6. Hook from DJ Khaled’s “Hold You Down”
7. Birthday Sex
8. Don’t Tell Em w/ YG

Big Sean

1. Paradise
2. All Your Fault
3. Verse from Good Music’s “Clique”
4. Ass (Dance)
5. Play No Games
6. My Last
7. Beware
8. I Know
9. Verse from Good Music’s “Mercy”
10. Verse from Good Music’s “Don’t Like”
11. One Man Can Change the World
12. Blessings
13. Stay Down
14. Marvin & Chardonnay
15. Verse from Drake’s “All Me”

J. Cole

1. FHD Intro
2. January 28th
3. Wet Dreamz
4. 03 Adolescence
5. Tale of 2 Citiez
6. Fire Squad
7. St. Tropez
8. Lights Please
9. In the Morning
10. Nobody’s Perfect
11. GOMD
12. No Role Modelz
13. Hello
14. Apparently
15. Love Yourz


16. Can’t Get Enough
17. Planes w/ Jeremih
18. Workout
19. Crooked Smile
20. Power Trip

J. Cole’s #WhatDreamsMayCome Tour, Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a review about a show I saw at UNCC featuring Wale and starring J. Cole on the latter’s What Dreams May Come tour. Well, this past weekend my girlfriend Amanda and I took a trip to Atlanta to see this tour again….only this time we got to MEET J. Cole.

I can’t even explain how amazing it was. For years I had followed Cole, downloaded every track I could, bought both albums, gone to every show if he was within 150 miles of me etc. etc. And now, I had the chance to meet him.

It was an experience that I will never forget as long as I live. A lot of people in the hip-hop community who do make it can sometimes lose who they really are in the same process, but Cole has not forgotten where he comes from. He was such a down to earth person and from the second he dapped me up as I approached him it felt like I was finally getting to see and talk to a long lost friend. I had entertained the thought of putting up the conversation we had prior to taking our photo but I think I’m going to be selfish and keep that to myself. Just know that he truly is a very genuine individual who DOES care about his fans. After the photo I was given an autographed poster (best believe it will be framed) and we left the venue until doors opened back up later that night.

J. Cole & Myself

J. Cole & Myself

Amanda and I hit up a bar because let’s be serious, I was on an emotional rollercoaster and I needed a drink. ASAP. I don’t think I ever came down from cloud 9 that night though, because when we got back to the venue for the show, things only got better. I’ve been to plenty of shows before but this by far topped them all. We were first row. Not 2nd, not 3rd, not somewhere in between. FIRST. And did it have its perks.
Bas was once again the first act and we were here to see his set in full. For basically being unknown in the hip-hop community he did a pretty solid job.

DMV’s finest was up next: Wale.

I won’t make any bones about it. Wale killed it. Sporting his Washington Redskins chain and rocking an all white outfit, Folarin got Fox Theatre bumpin. He started with his verse on “No Hands” which had the crowd singing in unison. He then went into a spree of jams that included “Chain Music”, “Bait” and “Slight Work”. Wale showed off his footwork during the newest twerking anthem “Clappers” and I have to say he did work. He then got into “Ambition” and lit up for “Rotation”.



After his set the anticipation set in once again. The house lights came on and the stage hands began to put up Cole’s stage. Never have 15-20 minutes seemed so long.

Finally, it was time. The curtains dropped and what appeared was a full on VMA-like set up. A full band was composed and visuals were on a screen in the back behind it. The spotlights hit the top of the stairs and out came Jermaine to “Trouble”. The theater went crazy. I could feel the floor going up and down beneath my feet as everyone was jumping up and down losing their minds. It was pandemonium.

What else can I say? Cole absolutely murdered it. 187. Chalk outlines. Yellow tape. DOA.

I won’t waste any time going through his set list. I know I touched on it in a previous post and you can check it out on LiveNation.com if you want to. I will share some of the better photos I got though:



Fayettenam's Finest

Fayettenam’s Finest



And last but certainly not least, I did want to share one last thing. During the performance Cole did the song “Chris Tucker”, which appears on his Truly Yours 2 EP. Right after his line “no bitch I’m a doctor!” he cut the music and proceeded to go on a hilarious rant with the crowd. It was hilarious. Take a look:

I hope you can enjoy it as much as I did.

#WDMC Tour with @JColeNC & @Wale

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.

Wale 2


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.

photo (2)

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”.

J. Cole

J. Cole

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.

(Cory, Bas, myself)

(Cory, Bas, myself)

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”.

photo (1)

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.


#BornSinner 10 out of 10


On June 18th a multitude of hip-hop/rap albums dropped, most notably Kanye’s “Yeezus”, Mac Miller’s “Watching Movies with the Sound off” and J. Cole’s “Born Sinner”. After giving each album ample listening time, there is no doubt in our minds who the unanimous winner was. NC’s very own, J. Cole. To be completely honest, Yeezus was giving me headaches. I’ll rip that album up here in a little while. But, back to the topic, actually forgot it…

Seriously though, Born Sinner is a complete, cohesive project that emphasizes Cole’s lyrical talents while showcasing his story telling abilities at the same damn time. Right off the bat on “Villuminati” Cole wastes no time in slicing up the track with his wordplay.

“Fake niggas get sprayed up / My verbal AK slay faggots / And I don’t mean no disrespect whenever I say faggot, okay faggot / Don’t be so sensitive
/ If you want to get fucked in the ass / That’s between you and whoever else’s dick it is / Pause, maybe that line was too far / Just a little joke to show how homophobic you are”

Obviously by now everyone has heard “Power Trip” ft. Miguel so we won’t even stop there.

Honestly there’s really no bad song on this album. Some standouts are “Forbidden Fruit” ft. Kendrick Lamar on the hook, “Crooked Smile” ft. TLC, “Let Nas Down”, “Born Sinner” ft. James Fauntleroy and if you copped the Deluxe Version, “New York Times” ft. 50 Cent & Bas and “Sparks Will Fly” ft. Jhene Aiko.

This is an album that you don’t have to worry about skipping ahead to a certain track. You can pop it in the deck and let it run. The numbers will speak for themselves as well. Cole sold nearly 300k in his first week, and increase of 80k units from the roughly 218k units that his debut album the Sideline Story sold. He was only about 30k units behind Yeezus.

J. Cole has cemented himself as a mainstay in the hip-hop/rap community with this sophomore project and he will continue to be a presence for the forseeable future.

If you haven’t already done so, please go purchase this album via iTunes, Best Buy etc and tell em Leeroy sent you.