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.

Big Sean – The I Decided Tour

This past January, Big Sean announced he would be embarking on a 20+ stop North American tour in support of his then upcoming 4th studio album, entitled “I Decided”. “Uber Everywhere” rapper MadeinTYO was set to be the supporting act as well. See dates below.

Tour Dates

Upon getting the notification on my LiveNation app, I knew I would immediately have to snap on tickets. To me, Sean is a guy that has consistently been putting out quality music for the past 3-4 years. He may not quite have the recognition or mass appeal of a Drake, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar etc, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing when it came to this tour. Instead of playing a stadium tour, or a large outdoor venue, Sean would be playing indoor venues like the Fillmore with a capacity of around 2,000 or so people. This meant that my friend Cory and I would have the opportunity to get a “seat” very close to the stage.

Fast forward a few months and it’s Friday, April 14th. A beautiful spring day in Charlotte, NC with clear skies, a nice breeze, temps in the 70’s and a 100% chance of turning up on the horizon.

After a few drinks and some food beforehand at nearby VBGB, Cory and I made our way to the venue and managed to be the 2nd group of people in line (not counting the VIP folks). A little over an hour later we were both approximately 10 feet away from the stage waiting for the show to begin. The crowd began pouring in once doors opened, and a buzz began to grow. In less than half an hour it seemed like the entire venue was packed, but I guess that’s to be expected when the venue sells out of tickets.

The first opening act was a Detroit, Michigan local by the name of Neisha Neshae. Dubbed the “queen of R&B trap”, she played a number of songs that including elements of both, yes you guessed it, R&B and trap. Admittedly, I knew nothing of her coming into the show, but I thought it was a pretty cool gesture that Big Sean went the extra mile to get a fellow Detroit artist on the tour for some exposure.

DJ Mo Beatz, Sean’s official DJ, was the next act on stage. There’s usually always a DJ involved in playing some popular hip-hop/rap music for the crowd at shows while sets are put up, artists get ready, etc. and Mo Beatz was that guy on this evening. He dropped a number of current hits, including Migos‘ “T Shirt”, Post Malone’s “Congratulations” and Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llife”.

After his set concluded, Mo Beatz made way for the tour’s official opening act, MadeinTYO, who performed a few songs, including his hit single “Uber Everywhere” as well as “Skateboard P” and “I Want”. This wouldn’t be the last time we saw MadeinTYO for the night, but more on that later.

Finally, after another set change, it was time. The lights dimmed, some smoke came onto the floor of the stage and a few lights hit the center of the stage, illuminating Big Sean as he made his way to the front of the stage to the tune of “Voices In My Head/Stick To The Plan”.

Sean Don

The crowd was already into it, but they really felt some kind of way when the beat changed during the middle of the song and the Metro Boomin tag came through the speakers. From that point on, Sean ran through hit after hit: Mercy, Clique, Play No Games, Paradise, All Your Fault, Moves, Dance (A$$), Blessings – just to name a few. One highlight during this sequence was another appearance by MadeinTYO. He re-emerged from the back of the stage so he and Sean could jointly perform “Skateboard P”.

Sean ended his set with “Bigger Than Me” and said his goodbyes to the audience. He wasn’t gone long though, because he came back out a few minutes later with an encore performance that started with “IDFWU” and ended with his recently twice platinum certified song “Bounce Back”.

The crowd was going word for word with Sean, and during the performance he came by my friends and I a few times and dapped us up mid-performance. If the show was a piece of cake, this was surely the metaphorical cherry on top. All in all, I would have to say that this concert registered in my top 10 shows that I’ve attended. Everything was great. The crowd was great, all the performers gave it everything they had, the sets/lighting/sound were on point, and all of that combined for a great experience. I’m hoping the success of I Decided and this tour give Sean the additional backing he needs (and deserves) to take his music to the next level, that could possibly turn into a stadium tour with his next LP. Only time will tell.

Until then, if you have a chance to catch one of the few remaining dates on this tour, I highly recommend going. If not, make sure you check out Sean’s album I Decided and hit me with your takes on twitter @ Leeroyknievil. Oh God!

I Decided.

The #PurpleReign Tour: Charlotte Edition

Happy Friday everyone. I’m enjoying a lovely rum & coke at the moment and I hope that your evening is going just as swimmingly. To be completely honest, I’m aware that it’s been almost a month since this concert took place. Part of me feels almost guilty for not posting sooner, but a larger part of me doesn’t want to feel obligated to make these posts. Let’s be serious, there probably aren’t but a few dedicated readers anyways – hey Amanda – so from here on out things will be a bit different. I’m going to post reviews after seeing a show for sure, but I’m not going to try to pander to any audience or try to make some kind of clickbait title for views. The days of going to ~20 rap shows a year are behind me. So from here on out, I’m keeping it real. [This would be the ideal time for a Chappelle show clip about when keeping it real goes wrong btw].

Alright, I’m off the soap box, let’s get to the damn thang.

Here we go. 2015 was owned by Future. There’s no doubt about it. The man dropped two critically acclaimed mixtapes in 56 Nights and
Beast Mode, and then followed them up with an unprecedented 3, yes THREE, number 1 albums in DS2, What A Time To Be Alive w/ Drake, and EVOL (not to mention the Purple Reign tape itself). For those counting at home, that is 5 projects in a single calendar year. Some people can’t put out 5 projects in a career – looking at you Dr. Dre.

Needless to say, the hype was really real for the Purple Reign Tour, and rightfully so.

Purple Reign Tour

Purple Reign Tour

A few months back I got a notification from my LiveNation app letting me know that tickets would be going on sale. I was all over it. Yes, I have seen Future perform before, but at that time he was nowhere near as popular as he is today.

Fast forward a few months. April 7, 2015. Showtime is 8pm at The Fillmore, one of my favorite venues. I’m rolling solo, which at this point I’m used to doing. Live music is just worth it in my opinion. Anyways, I showed up about 20 minutes before doors opened and the line was at least 200-250 yards long. Unreal. It didn’t phase me much though, because I had previously purchased a handy dandy “fast pass” from the venue for $10 which essentially provides a separate admission line that gets in before the mile long general admission line. I was tempted to buy a “Meet & Greet” package ticket, but $250 is a little too steep for me, no matter how much I like Future.

So inside the venue we go. The show actually didn’t take long to get started, which was nice. Lil Donald was the first act out. I won’t front at all, I’ve never heard of Lil Donald before that night. I learned he was signed to Freebandz though, so he’s got that going for him. He did a few songs and the crowd was cool with him.

The next performer I was very familiar with, Ty Dolla $ign. Most people got familiar with Ty following the success of his hit single, “Paranoid”. I will humble brag and say that I was a fan a little before that, mainly because of his affiliation with YG, who I love. I think everyone is familiar with the song “Toot It & Boot It” though, which is where Ty really got his start, even if nobody really knew who he was back then.

Ty came out looking super casual and put together the following setlist:

1. Familiar
2. Dead Presidents
3. Violent
4. Irie
5. Only Right w/ TeeCee4800
6. Toot It & Boot It
7. You & Your Friends
8. Play No Games
9. Sitting Pretty
10. Or Nah
11. Paranoid
12. Saved
13. Blasé

Ty held it down, especially for an opener. I would almost venture to call him a co-headliner. I skipped seeing Ty about a year ago at Amos’ Southend in Charlotte, so it really was a treat to see Ty AND Future in the same night.

Dolla $ign!

Dolla $ign!

After Ty’s set, house music filtered back through the speakers at a reasonable level and general conversation filled the venue. After some time, the stage was set for Fewtcha. The lights dimmed, and the backdrop of 3 split screens began to show a steady sea of purple waves. Anticipation was rising, and ultimately, our boy came out to grace the stage. After at least 2 hours since most of us entered the venue, we were ready to turn up. At first, there was a faint sound of music playing. It gradually got louder, and ultimately you heard the beginning of “Thought It Was a Drought” playing. Future ran through a brief introduction to the crowd, but the crowd could have cared less. We went word for word over the intro to the song until the beat dropped at which point all hell broke loose, in a good way of course.

Future put down a set list that was pretty amazing. It consisted of:

1. Thought it was a Drought

2. Move That Dope
3. Same Damn Time
4. Karate Chop
5. Monster
6. My Savages
7. Peacoat
8. Lay Up
9. Where Ya At
10. I Serve the Base
11. Blood on the Money
12. Stick Talk
13. Freak Hoe
14. Blow a Bag
15. Rotation
16. Slave Master

At this point, we had gone through a number of hits, and Future needed a break to get some water/hydrate/hit the gas, etc. Whatever he was doing, we had ourselves a guest MC enter the stage to keep us entertained, DJ Esco, who was donning a fitting #2 Charlotte Hornets Larry Johnson jersey.

DJ Esco

DJ Esco

Esco played a number of current radio hits for 10-15 minutes and ultimately gave the mic back up to Future, who continued to light things up, and he started the 2nd portion of the show with a bang, by bringing Ty back out of stage to perform Blasé, together. It was lit. Ty even leapt from the stage into the welcoming arms of fans, who lost it.

17. Blasé w/ Ty Dolla $ign
18. Real Sisters
19. The Percocet & Stripper Joint
20. Trap N*ggas
21. F*ck Up Some Commas
22. Diamonds Dancing
23. Jersey
24. I’m The Plug
25. Jumpan

26. March Madness
27. All Right
28. Wicked
29. Perkys Calling
30. Purple Reign

Fewtcha!

Fewtcha!

And with that final performance, Future bid us adieu and left the stage. The venue’s lights came back on, and people started filtering out into the brisk night air. What they didn’t know, was that Future wasn’t done. After a few minutes, he came back out on stage and gave an encore performance consisting of:

31. Low Life
32. Honest
33. Chosen One
34. Love Me

It was a solid hour and a half performance, and Future certainly delivered. He put down a great performance and earned every cent that he made that evening. My only criticism would be that he didn’t play my personal favorite, “Gone to the Moon”. I get it though. With his current buzz, most of his fans these days don’t even know that song because it’s so old. Fortunately, I can say I’m lucky enough to have seen it performed before, so there was no real damage done.

All in all, it was a great show, and I’m really glad that I made the effort to go see Future perform. I won’t say I’ve been a day one Future fan, but as a fan of at least 3 years or so, it is really cool to see him rising up in the hip-hop community and know that you were supporting him back when he was relatively unknown. My humble brag is now done. Point is, if you haven’t seen him and he’s coming to a city near you, get some tickets and make it happen. You won’t regret it.

#CLreFRESH presents: DJ Dummy, DJ Mustard & Fabolous

This past week I was on the interwebs going from site to site looking for upcoming shows in the Charlotte area. I wasn’t having much success, and ultimately found that nothing was really happening within the next month, so I gave up the search and went to IG to peruse through some photos. Lo and behold, I stumble across the IG page of Fabolous, who posted the following picture 15 minutes earlier:

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Jackpot.

I immediately followed the link in the photo caption and found that this event was being sponsored by Coors Light and was 21+ only. Not only that, it was FREE. I hit up a couple of guys to see if they wanted to go and just like that the wheels were in motion. Fast forward 2 days to the night of the show and we were waiting in line at the Fillmore. It wasn’t all gravy though, it was raining and because this was a free event, the line was ridiculous. (Sidebar: In hindsight, I definitely should’ve seen that coming). Nevertheless, after a solid 45-55 minute wait in the weather, our squad finally got to the doors. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by some Coors Light reps who gave us vouchers for 2 FREE beers.

Free Beer??

Free Beer??

We gladly accepted and made our way inside. I was under the impression that we wouldn’t have a spot very close to the front because of the line but thankfully, I was wrong. I later found out that Coors Light had set up stations in the back of the Fillmore where they were serving FREE Lobster Mac & Cheese, sliders, etc. which would explain why we could stroll right up to the front of the crowd. Hey, no complaints here. We did manage a Squad shot before the show really got underway:

SQUAD

SQUAD

No Limit Larry from local hip-hop radio station Power98 was our host for the evening and he kicked things off with a little DJ battle where each would take turns playing popular songs to get the crowd moving around a lil bit – nothing crazy, but a solid appetizer for our musical palettes. Next up was DJ Dummy. Fun fact: This is actually J. Cole’s official tour DJ. Dummy got a little more crowd involvement going and continued the trend of playing popular hip-hop songs while also sprinkling in a few throwbacks. After his set, No Limit Larry came back out and let us know he had a surprise guest for us, and without further hesitation brought out hip-hop veteran Pastor Troy!

Pastor Troy

Pastor Troy

Smoke shot out of some cannons and snow flakes starting falling from the sky as Troy came out rocking what looked like a WWF championship belt and rapping “No Mo Play in GA”. Old heads immediately recoginzed the track and started going bar for bar with the Pastor. The new cats more or less just vibed along with it. After Troy was finished, No Limit Larry came back out to the stage and introduced somebody who we all knew: DJ Mustard.

DJ Mustard

DJ Mustard

Mustard has a very recognizable, albeit simplistic sound and at this point, everybody knows who produced the song before anyone starts rapping/singing – Mustard on the beat ho!

Mustard went through all of the popular songs that he’s produced, including “My N*gga”, “Who Do You Love”, “I’m Different”, “Post To Be”, and the list goes on and on. He then transitioned into doing what Dummy and the previous DJ’s all did by playing top 40ish type hip-hop songs.

After Mustard was done, we all thought that Fab would be next. This would mark another time in the night where I would be wrong, but I didn’t care because at that point NC LEGEND Petey Pablo came out to “Raise Up”! I flat out lost it and started spitting with him. I actually had Petey’s CD, ” Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry” that featured this song when I was in about 8th grade and I remember just keeping that song on repeat over and over. After the song Petey came down to the front of the crowd and dapped of few people up, myself included! It was honestly the highlight of the evening for me.

PeteyPablo!

Petey Pablo!

Finally, after a lot of excitement and surprise guest appearances, it was time for Fabolous.

Fabolous

Fabolous

He came out rocking a Hornets Larry Johnson jersey with matching Larry Johnson Converse Aero Jam sneaks to the tune of “Lituation” as lights were flashing everywhere, snow was falling from the sky and smoke was blasting the front row of the crowd in the face. It was pretty intense, but we loved it.

Fab went through a Niiiiiiiice setlist that included songs from his recently released “Young OG Project”, classic throwbacks and songs from his Soul Tapes.

1. Lituation
2. We Good
3. Ball Drop
4. She Wildin
5. Can’t Deny It
6. Young’n
7. Superwoman verse (Lil Mo cover)
8. So Into You
9. Can’t Let You Go
10. You Make Me Better
11. Breathe
12. Cuffin Season

13. Foreigners
14. Thim Slick
15. For The Love
16. B.I.T.E.
17. Really Tho
18. You Don’t Know About It
19. Got That Work
20. Rack City remix verse (Tyga cover)
21. Racked Up Shawty verse (Meek Mill cover)
22. Say Aah verse (Trey Songz cover)
23. Throw It In the Bag
24. Throw In In the Bag remix
25. You Be Killin Em

All in all, it was an awesome night with a number of great performances. It’s not very often that free concerts come around, so be on the lookout for this concert series as they go to a few more cities across the nation. Just search for #CLreFRESH on Instagram and Twitter to find out where they’ll be at next. Here are some additional shots we got if they might help sway you on whether you would like to go or not:

Loso

Loso

Dijon

Dijon

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.

YG

YG

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:

IMG_1418

IMG_1419

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.

IMG_1416

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.

IMG_0227

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:

YG

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?

Jeremih

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

Encore

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

Wale: The SIMPLE Mobile Simply Nothing Tour

What’s up hip hop heads? I hope everyone had a great weekend and is doing well on this brisk Tuesday afternoon. Make sure you bundle up tonight, it’s getting frigid with this ice storm – we’re talking Gucci & Jeezy so icey levels here. BRR!!

Alright I’m done with the corny jokes.

Now then, our latest and greatest show review is being brought to you by none other than the DMV’s finest, Wale. Last night, Folarin’s #SimplyNothingTour touched down in the Queen City of Charlotte, NC to a nearly sold out show at the The Fillmore on Seaboard Ave. If you haven’t had a chance to see a show at this venue, I highly recommend it. It holds about 1,500 people in it so you definitely get a more intimate type feel to whoever you wind up seeing here. Aside from that, it has a great speaker system and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

Prior to Ralph performing, a number of performers blessed the stage with their presence to raise the energy level in the room. First up was local rapper, Senior. This will mark the 3rd or 4th time I’ve had a chance to see Senior open up for different acts and it’s evident that he is progressing nicely as an artist and is really gaining a knack for an enthusiastic stage presence. Accompanied by NevaMind & DJ Mydnite, Senior laid down a few solid tracks that started to get the heads bobbin in the crowd, including a personal favorite of mine: The Art of War. If you have a minute to spare, check out his music and throw him a like or two. I’m sure he would appreciate any feedback (#SupportLocalMusic).

Next up was Bizzy Crook. To be completely honest, I didn’t have a clue who he was prior to the show -but I will say, he delivered a very solid albeit short set list and is definitely on my radar now. As I’m typing this I’m already planning to look into his music and see what projects are available for purchase/download. If you have any recommendations, please don’t hesitate to throw them at me.

Bizzy Crook

Bizzy Crook

Following Bizzy was someone not billed on the showcard, another DMV artist that pleasantly surprised us all: Fat Trel. The excitement level in the room was rising at this point and showed no signs of slowing down. Seriously, once he did “Respect With The Teck” it was ON. I was in full on gorilla mode at this point and I blame that Lex Luger beat alone. It knocks so hard. After Trel did his set, yet another act hit the stage.

Fat Trel

Fat Trel

Audio Push, consisting of Oktane and Price came out repping their HS87 label (founded by Hit-Boy) and did a number of songs, including “Theme Song” and “T.U.”. This duo’s energy level was through the roof. It was about impossible to not be going up and down at this point, and just when you thought things couldn’t get any more hype, out came Wale.

Wale

Wale

I won’t make any bones about it. He tore the roof off the Fillmore. I think this was my 4th time seeing Wale and I have to say this was hands down his best performance. Not only did he play everything I wanted to hear, the way in which he did it was awesome. It was literally a party on stage. He went through classics as well as a few new joints from his latest mixtape, Festivus. The set list went:

1. Chain Music
2. Deep End
3. Pretty Girls
4. Loyalty
5. Slight Work
6. Friendship Heights
7. 90210
8. Girls on Drugs

9. Lotus Flower Bomb
10. Ambition
11. Rotation
12. The Break Up Song
13. Body Like a Benz
14. One Eye Kitty w/ Fat Trel
15. In My Bag w/ Fat Trel
16. Bad
17. Rack City (Remix)
18. 88
19. Bait
20. Clappers
21. Quick Fast w/ Audio Push
22. No Hands

DMV's Finest

DMV’s Finest

Folarin

Folarin

Wale has definitely mastered the art of stage presence and showmanship. The way he got the crowd involved just made you want to join him on stage. He rapped, he danced, he made you laugh – what more could you ask for? And to add to that, when he did “No Hands” Wale went to the middle of the crowd and let us sing the hook acapella to close down the night. We were definitely feelin some type of way.

All in all, it was a great performance by someone I consider to be vastly underappreciated in the industry. People probably think of him as arguably the 2nd or 3rd best artist on his own label (M-M-M-M-M-M-aybach Music) let alone the rap game. While I do think that some of the content of his music has changed (as well as the sound) from his early works to his MMG signing days, he has continued to put just as much work and effort into his music throughout that entire period and the final product that we get to experience is a gift, making us, well, the Gifted. And on top of that, the way he and the other artists performed together on stage really gave the show that extra umph to push it over the top.

I mean point blank, the show was lit:

Lastly, I wanted to thank Duncan and Dubby for letting me use their tweets to help show what an amazing night this really was. Thank y’all.

And don’t forget The Album About Nothing drops 3/31!

Upcoming Hip-Hop shows in Charlotte (Feb & March 2015 edition)

What’s up hip hop heads?

Wanted to give you a quick heads up on some shows coming to the Queen City in the next 2 months that might pique your interest.

1. Monday, February 9th: Chris Brown & Trey Songz featuring special guest Tyga at Time Warner Cable Arena. This might not be a bad Valentine’s day idea, just throwin it out there. It will also generate some promotion for Tyga and Chris Brown’s upcoming album, Fan of a Fan: The Album, due to drop February 24th.

Between The Sheets Tour

Between The Sheets Tour

2. Sunday, February 15th: Wale headlines the SIMPLE mobile Simply Nothing Tour at The Fillmore. This show will undoubtedly showcase a few songs from Folarin’s newest mixtape, Festivus and will also serve to promote The Album About Nothing. This show will also feature Bizzy Crook and Audio Push as supporting acts.

SIMPLE Mobile Simply Nothing Tour

SIMPLE Mobile Simply Nothing Tour

3. Saturday, February 21st: PARTYNEXTDOOR is set to embark on his PND Live: World Tour hitting Amos’ Southend in Charlotte. Supporting artists TBA.

PND Live: World Tour

PND Live: World Tour

4. Tuesday, March 17th: Travi$ Scott & Young Thug co-star on the Rodeo Tour coming to The Fillmore with super producer Metro Boomin doing a DJ set. The turn up for this show is going to be absolutely ridiculous. *Big Sean voice* Oh God!

Rodeo Tour

Rodeo Tour

5. Thursday, March 26th: Just announced: Curren$y is coming to perform at The Fillmore and I suspect that this show will be promoting his upcoming album, Pilot Talk 3. No word yet on whether this show is part of a tour or who the supporting artists will be.

Spitta Andretti

Spitta Andretti

That’s all for now, we’ll keep you in the loop with any updates. Hopefully we’ll see y’all at one or more of these shows!