Hip-Hop as a culture as changed over the past 10 years. A hungry artist may rise to fame and enjoy the glitz and glam, getting lost in themselves soon forgetting their purpose. Tuesday night, J.Cole reminded us of his purpose. He came before a crowd of energy filled young people and gave the best show I’ve seen in quite some time. The venue now known as the Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, was filling up with attention on the stage to see the layout of what could be a long, fun night.
Big Sean, YG and of course headliner J.Cole definitely solidified their rap stardom. The success of YG’s debut LP, Big Sean’s “Dark Sky Paradise” and J.Cole’s “2014 Forest Hills Drive” all helped the rappers carve their lane in this rather unique industry. Quality still exists in rap. Hip-Hop IS NOT DEAD after all.
To kick off the night Jeremih opened up first with his usual R&B set, then Compton rapper YG laid down some heavy tracks including many of his hits such as “My Hitta” featuring Young Jeezy. You can tell that the West Coast was in the building especially after the success of the recently released NWA biopic, Straight Outta Compton.
After a great opening, fans became ecstatic about the show ahead of them. The show which was at the Perfect Vodka Ampitheatre in West Palm Beach, FL drew crowds of almost 20k fans from the whole Tri-County area. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were represented right on the night of the show.
So on to the official opener, BIG Sean. Sean Michael Anderson definitely blessed the stage with an intro you could never forget. This wasn’t the BIG Sean we had seen in 2013 at SunFest in WPB. This was an elevated version of the Detroit MC, which seemed to transcend the whole night.
The backdrop of his stage setup was a liquor store and some neon lights, just like we’ve seen at every show this whole tour. The design included crosses and “Welcome to Paradise Liquor” signage. Big Sean emerged on the roof to get the crowd on 100 then coming down to drop some South Florida specific lines. Clearly, he was WAY UP!
Sean went through his hits, including “Dance (A$$)” with crazy neon lights and some more songs to fit the set. He performed classics like “My Last”, “Blessings”, “All Me”, and others. Then shortly after His Aura Gold mascot Rico the Lion came out during the Kanye track “Mercy,”. Sean then went on to thank the crowd and then exited stage left with his anthem, “I Don’t Fuck With You.” Safe to say Big Sean earned his crown in this rap game.
Next up finally, we saw J.Cole come from behind a curtain of a house with the musical influences of Jazz streaming through the speakers. The saxophone played and played and Cole hit us with the intro from “2014 Forest Hills Drive” – “Do you want to be happy?” He then went on to ask the crowd an important question: “Can I perform the whole fucking album for you?”
The crowd erupted.
Jermaine Cole then went on a journey of his tracks from the album. He talked a bit in “Wet Dreamz” and pretty much performed each song from the album in order from beginning to end. His live band aided in catching some of the craziest sounding beats courtesy of Cole. Cole told tale after tale of each song and its meaning to his life and the album. He expressed emotion in his words as he spit each lyric to each respective song. It was a Cole World, No Blanket.
The whole performance was so intimate even though being over 20,000 in the crowd. He had backup singers, clips that displayed tones and moods from each track and went along the tracklist, “St. Tropez” and others. He also spoke on the ideals of society, how he came on during the MySpace days and the small town mindset. His wit and knowledge had fans listening to him like he was a preacher doing his sermon in Sunday church.
At the halfway mark the concert took a real old school turn. J.Cole reminded us of his mixtape days trying to get put on with “The Warm Up” and “Friday Night Lights” which is one of my favorites. He also hit the crowd with a “Power Trip” minus Miguel. from his sophomore LP “Born Sinner”. All the women went crazy on this one! After that was done he started going on a tangent about these industry frauds, Instagram chicks, Hollywood fakes, and women who “don’t want to be saved” before hitting with the 1-2 punch in “No Role Modelz.”
We heard him perform all of his hits from this album, “Apparently”, “G.O.M.D.”, “Fire Squad”, “Tale of 2 Citiez” and many more.
J.Cole then brought out Jeremih to perform the raunchy track “Planes.” He reminded us that “They love him in the Chi like M.J. – they love him in the Chi like Oprah.” He also took us through the original verse from Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up,” which was sampled for his 2011 platinum selling single, “Work Out.” Cole executed his story very well with this tour.J.Cole is simply not that shy guy that he used to be. But he is still getting used to him. His stardom and hard work was displayed all in one show. The guy has a long successful career ahead of him. Jermaine Cole made South Florida feel true Hip-Hop once again. Something it hasn’t felt for a long long time.
Visit our instagram page for footage from the show.