J. Cole performs at Miller

November 8, 2010

By Eric Woodyard
Western Herald

The crowd at Western Michigan University grew anxious. A bright red curtain closing off the stage was all that separated them from seeing Roc Nation artist, J. Cole, live in Miller Auditorium on Saturday, Nov. 6.

The crowd was entertained for nearly an hour with three opening acts, including Grand Rapids native, Willie the Kid, who is a protégé of DJ Drama.

As time ticked by, people continued to claim their seats and pack the building. At around 8:20 p.m., the main attraction strolled onto the stage with a big smile on his face. Rocking a pair of black and gray original Air Jordan 3s, a black polo t-shirt and a navy blue and white jacket to match his Detroit Tigers baseball cap, J. Cole proceeded to put on his show.

He didn’t use any special props or lighting, just the bare essentials of hip-hop: a microphone, a spotlight, a DJ and a piano player. This did not seem to be a problem to anyone, as fans shouted and cameras flashed from everywhere with people trying to capture an image of the up-and-coming artist in action.

“Western Michigan [University], what’s up?” J. Cole shouted over the screams. “This gonna be a good crowd; I thought it was gonna be like 10 people in here.”

Although J. Cole hasn’t released an official studio album, it seemed as though the vast majority knew all of the words to each of his singles. In 2007, he dropped his first mixtape dubbed “The Come Up” and in 2009 he followed up with another mixtape titled “The Warm Up.” The songs from these pieces served as the fuel to the crowd’s fire as they were charged up all night.

While the crisp instrumentals played in the background from his DJ and piano man, he passionately performed songs such as “Welcome,” “Dollar and a Dream” and “Lights Please.” In fact, he even attempted to play the piano in the midst performing “Lights Please,” but had to stop as he busted out laughing after realizing he wouldn’t be able to rap and play at the same time for the entire song.

He frequently encouraged the audience to be interactive between each of his songs by asking them to do things such as waving their hands, throwing up their diamonds and raising their index fingers to represent certain themes of his songs.

He also informed listeners that he did have a legitimate connection to the state.

“I love Michigan! I got a lot of support and a lot of family in Michigan, like Eaton Rapids. Y’all heard of Eaton Rapids, Michigan?” J. Cole asked.

Near the end, J. Cole wrapped up with a few popular hits that he was featured on with known artists like Wale and Miguel. He performed “All I Want Is You,” “Beautiful Bliss,” “Who Dat,” “Blow Up” and ended with “A Star Is Born,” a song that he collaborated on with Jay-Z from his last album “The Blueprint 3.”

At 9:13 p.m., J. Cole exited the stage and Chris Bellomy, a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, thanked everyone for supporting the event, before concluding the concert. The quality of J. Cole’s routine left fans in a frenzy and broadened his fan base to a few in the audience who may not have been as familiar with his music as others.

“I’m a way bigger fan after seeing him in person. Before, I had only listened to Drake because they’re somewhat rivals so now I’m starting to like J. Cole too,” WMU senior Geremy Hill said after the concert. “I was shocked when he actually played the piano and rapped at the same time, that took a lot of talent to do that and he’s a good artist and I can see him being in the top five in the next couple years.”

“It was a wonderful experience. J. Cole performed well and the audience was very into the show,” WMU junior Julia Cooper said. “My favorite part was him getting involved with the audience by talking to us and kind of getting us into the concert.”

J. Cole plans to release his first album in early 2011. A title for this project should be released in the upcoming weeks.

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