J. Cole – The KOD Tour

I’m going to start this post off a little differently, but bear with me. My wife Amanda is a huge, and I mean YUGE, fan of Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour, that is currently going on throughout the United States, was originally announced in November of 2017. Amanda had a pre-sale ticket opportunity and made sure that we would be attending one of the tour stops that was closest to our home city of Charlotte, NC. That city just so happened to be Atlanta, GA and the date for that show was set for August 10th, 2018.

In May of 2018, J. Cole announced a tour to support his most recent album, KOD.

KOD Tour Poster

The only NC stop was going to be in Raleigh, NC on a date that I couldn’t attend, which kind of bummed me out. However, my brain started working and I realized that Cole would be performing on August 12th in Duluth, GA (about 20-25 mins north of ATL) – the same weekend that I would already be in town for the Taylor Swift show. How lucky is that? I immediately bought a ticket to that show for Cole when they went on sale.

Fast forward a few months and it’s Sunday August 12th in Duluth, GA at the Infinite Energy Arena.

Infinite Energy Arena

I’m rolling solo to this show (not the first time that’s happened), but I’m also wearing my NC State Dennis Smith basketball jersey, so I’m getting a lot of “dope jersey man” and things of that nature from fellow concert goers. I’m wearing it because Jermaine and Dennis are both Fayetteville, NC natives and go back a long way. I’m also a proud NC State alum, which is where Dennis went to school, so it all worked out in my mind to be a perfect fit for the show. I got inside the seating area and found my spot, which was in the lower bowl to the far left of the stage. Folks started filling in the sold out 13,000 person capacity venue and we all began to wait for the show to begin.

There were a number of opening acts. The ones scheduled to perform were EarthGang, Jaden Smith and Young Thug. I was cautiously optimistic that in Atlanta, the Mecca of hip-hop, there might be a surprise guest in store for us. Only time would tell.

First up: EarthGang. Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot make up this duo that is signed to Dreamville Records. These guys began when the venue was still filling in, but they brought a LOT of energy to the stage. Admittedly I don’t know a lot of their material, but they performed a relatively small set of maybe 4-6 songs before they performed one song I was familiar with, “Meditate”, which features fellow Dreamville artist, JID, who just so happened to come out and perform his verse! Surprise guest #1 was in the books.

2nd Act: Jaden Smith. I won’t even sugar coat this. I don’t know any of Jaden’s music. I love his dad Will for bringing the best 90’s sitcom to TV, but I can’t say that I’ve listened to any of his son’s music. Jaden had a lot of energy as well, but it was a much more intense energy. He performed a smaller setlist as well around the same size of EarthGang’s and it included “Ghost”, “Batman”, “George Jeff”, “Watch Me” and “Icon”.

3rd Act: Atlanta’s own, Young Thug aka Thugger Thugger aka Jeffery. Thugger is one of the most polarizing names in hop-hop in my opinion, because he’s so different from what most artists are doing with regard to his sound, his sense of style and his delivery. One person might love him, the next might hate him. But in Atlanta, most people love him. And he got a huge ovation when he came out to start going through his set, which contained “Riri”, “WyclefJean”, “With That”, “Best Friend”, “Family Don’t Matter”, “Digits”, “Relationship” and “Pick Up The Phone”. During the middle of this set, Thugger brought out fellow ATL native and up and coming rapper Gunna, and they jointly performed “Oh Okay”. The crowd was feeling it at this point, but they had no idea what was coming next. THE KING – T.I. came out to the tune of a classic, “What You Know” and the crowd lost their mind. T.I. immediately followed that up with “24s” off of his classic album, Trap Muzik. After those two bangers, T.I. spoke to the crowd for a little while about how we shouldn’t let people tell us what we can and can’t do, and that we should follow our dreams, which led into his next song, the triple platinum hit, “Live Your Life”, to which the crowd sang the hook in unison. Finally, Young Thug rejoined T.I. on stage for the duo to perform their joint banger, “About The Money”. It was LIT.

After T.I. left the stage, stage hands came out and began to get the stage ready for Cole’s performance. After a while, the curtains dropped and the letters “KOD” were hanging above the stage in the same font that they were on the album cover. Smoke was flowing onto the stage. Cole’s band wasn’t even visible. But out came Jermaine, to the tune of one of my favorite cuts off of KOD, “Window Pain”. The crowd erupted and the energy didn’t let down until the show was over. Cole took us through a setlist that mostly consisted of his newer material, however he did include some of his original singles as well for those like myself that have been following him for some time now. The setlist went:

1. Window Pain

2. A Tale of 2 Citiez
3. Fire Squad
4. Photograph
5. The Cut Off
6. Deja Vu
7. ATM
8. Motiv8
9. Kevin’s Heart
10. BRACKETS
11. Nobody’s Perfect
12. Work Out
13. Can’t Get Enough
14. Ville Mentality
15. Neighbors
16. Love Yourz
17. Apparently
18. Wet Dreamz
19. G.O.M.D.
20. Power Trip

Prior to performing his next song, Cole took out some time to explain the meanings behind the name of the album, KOD:

1) Kids on Drugs, “that the times we live in and I’m not talking just about rappers we all on something whether it pills, weed, sex, money, we all on something running from sh*t!”

2) King Overdose, “that’s me personifying the times that I have and do go through the same f*cking addictions. You I’m talking about.

3) Kill our Demons, “that’s what I pray we all f*cking get to do one day, you know what I mean. We all running from some sh*t. I hope we can all look at our sh*t straight in the face and get over that sh*t.”

He went on to say, “What I’m talking about is pain, and our ability to deal with pain. I don’t give a f*ck if you’re from white picket fences or you’re from the f*cking projects. We’ve all been through some sort of pain. One man’s pain can’t be greater or less than the next man’s. Everybody’s been through something”. Cole then went on to perform (you guessed it, KOD).

21. KOD

After this performance, Cole left the stage and the lights came on and the show appeared to be over. The crowd wasn’t quite buying it. And it turned out that we were right, because Jermaine returned to the stage a few minutes later and gave us an encore.

22. 1985

23. No Role Modelz

I’ve always loved the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I grew up without cable (the struggle was real) so of the 10 channels we got, one of them always had the black sitcoms that I would watch after school every day. Family Matters, A Different World, The Fresh Prince, etc. The Fresh Prince was by far my favorite. A few years ago I even got the entire series on DVD. So when this song came out, I immediately gravitated towards it, and I thought it was the perfect way to end the show.

I was trying to think of a way to describe Cole’s music, and what I repeatedly arrived at was his way of being brutally sincere and humble with his audience while at the same time, providing hope and encouragement to anyone dealing with a struggle, be it great or small. His substance-over-style approach to music has always been appealing to me because his lyrics carry weight, meaning. But I’ll get off my soapbox.

The point of all this, is if you have the opportunity to see him at a stop on this tour, don’t hesitate. Go.

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Travi$ Scott & Young Thug: The Rodeo Tour

One of the most anticipated tours of 2015 was announced this past January. Rising hip-hop/rap stars Travi$ Scott and Young Thug would be touring together across the United States on the Rodeo Tour, in an effort to promote Travi$ Scott’s upcoming album: Rodeo. Along with them, one of the fasting rising producers in the game, Metro Boomin, would be doing a DJ set prior to those two hitting the stage.

Rodeo Tour

Rodeo Tour

The moment this tour was announced, I knew exactly where I would be on March 17th when the tour came to The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC. No questions asked.

I thought I was being slick getting to the show about an hour early. My plan was to hit a bar or two and toss a few back prior to getting in line. That plan did not last very long. When I got on site around 5:30, a line was wrapped around the block already. Doors were at 7. SEVEN. The hype of this show had certainly gotten around.

I met up with a friend of mine and after a while we managed to get in, and in a decent spot in the crowd. After your typical milling around to house music, a DJ came on to warm things up a little bit. Now I’ve been to a lot of shows over the years but I have never experienced a crowd like this. They turned up to the house DJ. I mean seriously?? A mosh pit was forming in the center of the crowd pretty close to where I would be at and I wanted no part of that madness. So my boy and I noped right on out of there to a place that we thought would be a little less crazy.

Metro eventually came out to a lot of people cheering and started off a dope setlist including tracks he had produced as well as ones he had not. The crowd was definitely feeling him, but you could tell it wasn’t quite all the way turnt yet.

But, that ended when about 30 minutes later Young Thug came out to “2 Cups Stuffed”. The energy people had been holding in came bursting out at this point and they started going wild for the night. I hadn’t seen Thugger Thugger perform prior to this show, but he held the stage down pretty well for himself. He played a number of his classics right off the bat, including his verse on “TF out my Face” and “Hookah” for around 15 mins or so, at which point he gave up the stage to La Flame.

I’ve heard people talk about how Travi$ can perform with so much energy, and those people were not lying. Not a single bit. I honestly don’t know if this guy will have a voice at the end of this tour and I’m sure he’ll need to sleep for at least 3 days straight to get his energy back, because he goes all out during his shows. The first song he played was “Quintana” and my God, I think the rafters were shaking.

The show continued on in about 15 minute intervals between Thugger and La Flame each doing songs until they came to do songs together, including “Mamacita” and “Skyfall” – both of which set the place off. Personally, the highlight for myself was “Upper Echelon”. That song is a certified banger. Take a look:

Right as things were beginning to wrap up, Rich Gang’s founder Birdman made an appearance. This was not expected at all. Now, I’m not a big Birdman fan by any means, but I can get down with the Big Tymers. Birdman dropped “Numba 1 Stunna” and “Still Fly” and it was impossible to not go word for word with those classics. It really was icing on the cake.

All in all, this was a great show and probably the wildest crowd I’ve ever been a part of. Songs were performed from Owl Pharoah, Days Before Rodeo, Rich Gang: Tha Tour Part 1, 19 & Boomin and various other projects. Thugger and La Flame played all of their hits and were really fun to watch perform. The only knock I have is that Travi$ used autotune for at least the first half of songs he did which was kinda weird. Still, I would encourage anyone who can to go check it out. Even if you’re not a big fan of either artist, the experience itself is worth more than the price of admission. They don’t call it the Rodeo Tour for nothing either, so brace yourselves.

If you might be heading to one of their shows in the future and don’t want to see the set list, stop reading. Otherwise, here you are:

Thugger:

1. 2 Cups Stuffed
2. TF Out My Face verse (Rich Homie Quan cover)
3. Hookah verse (Tyga cover)
4. Free Gucci

Travi$

5. Quintana
6. Sin City (GOOD Music cover)
7. Uptown
8. High Fashion

Thugger:

9. Imma Ride
10. About the Money verse (T.I. cover)
11. Warrior
12. Some More

Travi$

13. All Your Fault (Big Sean cover, Travi$ helped produce this track)
14. Don’t Play
15. Quintana Pt. 2
16. Upper Echelon

Thugger

17. Danny Glover
18. The Blanguage
19. Stoner

Travi$

20. Sloppy Toppy
21. Basement
22. Backyard Freestyle

Thugger

23. Givenchy
24. 730

Travi$

25. Grey
26. Company verse (Drake cover)

Travi$ & Thugger

27. Mamacita
28. Skyfall

Travi$

29. Zombies
30. Nothing But Net

Thugger

31. Lifestyle

Birdman

32. Leather So Soft
33. Numba One Stunna
34. Still Fly

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!