Allow me to start this with a small history lesson. November 23rd at Fortune Sound Club = SOLD OUT. June 24th and 25th at Rogers Arena = SOLD OUT. August 23rd at The Vogue Theatre = SOLD OUT. It is worth noting that the June dates were as a support act for Rihanna, but regardless that means the last four times J. Cole stepped on stage in Vancouver it was in front of a sold out crowd. All this love in our fine city without even dropping a studio album yet. I had the chance to hang out with the North Carolina rapper after his high energy tour kickoff performance at The Vogue on Granville Street.
Despite the fact his cell phone was stolen from his pocket on stage J. Cole was in good spirits when I went into his dressing room. J. Cole was lounging, feet up on the couch using his tour documentary director’s Blackberry to check Twitter for any leads on the location of his phone. “I came out after checking my phone to see what time it was for the encore, I put it in my pocket then when I was performing Villematic this girl up front reached up and grabbed it right out of my pocket. We even got it on camera, so we are hoping she returns it before we have to release the footage of her stealing my Blackberry” said J. Cole about the theft.
“SEPTEMBER! 27! 2011!” I said to J. Cole to try and lighten the mood. I reminded J. Cole of the last time we chatted in Vancouver and how he was able to say the release date of the Cole World: The Sideline Story album about 200 times in a 6 minute interview. “I am just excited to finally have a date I can get out there. It hasn’t changed. It’s not getting pushed back. That IS the date.” This concert was the opening date on a long list of shows on J. Cole’s Cole World Tour. With the album set to come out late September and the tour going through North America & Europe into mid December I asked J. Cole if he had anything special planned for the shows once the album drops. “We gonna switch up the entire show. We are gonna be playing more album shit which is gonna be crazy. Lots of stuff we never played before on stage.”
J. Cole’s last time in Vancouver was for back to back shows with Rihanna & B.o.B. at Rogers Arena. If any of you are like me (or have eyes for that matter) you know that Rihanna is one of the world’s most beautiful women. When I asked J. Cole what it was like to be on a North American tour with her he had nothing but kind words to say about the young singer. “Rihanna was mad cool. Like way cooler than I could even expect. She would come out and fuck around with us at after parties.”
With the extra time in town last time he took that chance to get out to the EA Sports Canada compound in Burnaby to play some basketball. “I just got into town late last night, and then today I had rehearsals so I didn’t have the chance to get out there to play this time around. I love going there, I love the people there.” If you don’t know, EA Sports used J. Cole’s track The Plan on the basketball game NBA: Elite but that game never got released.
J. Cole is a young rapper who has a strong sense of style. On this night he was rocking a mint pair of Jordan XII’s and a slick Cincinnati snap-back hat. “You’re not one of those artists who appeals to the locals by supporting the local sports team?” I asked. J. Cole laughed about that as he stood up to grab a bag of chips from the catering spread. “I’m not that good of a planner. We got a bunch of dates on this tour. Lots of cities, lot’s of teams. So, you know, I just rock my own stuff. I think Wale would do that.”
All this success in rap music, the new Jordan’s arriving in the mail on tour, touring with the likes of Jay-Z, Drake, Rihanna and B.o.B. it might surprise you to find out what J. Cole’s first concert that he went to as a kid. “It was at Walnut Creek in Raleigh North Carolina. I went with my mom to see James Taylor. I remember when I was nine I was going to go see Janet Jackson but she cancelled the show. I was pissed, I was crying.” On the flip side of things, being in the position he is in now in the music I had to ask what concerts coming up that J. Cole wants to get out to. “I’m still tore up that I never got to see Kanye West on the Glow in the Dark tour. I’d go to a Beyonce show anytime. I’d love to see a Lady Gaga show too, see some of that wild shit she does.”
We are in a great time now as hip hop or rap music fans. If you are in your twenties or late teens, you have so many talented artists IN YOUR AGE GROUP right now making great music. The internet has done a lot to the music industry over the years, but the one industry it has helped more than any other is hip hop ad rap. Smart artists survived because they saw the potential in the internet by not being scared of your music getting out there for free, by harnessing the power of the internet to promote your early tracks. If you build on that long enough and then you come out with a major release, your fans will support you. They will buy the music because you have already given them so much. J. Cole has been doing that. He was The Warm Up, The Come Up, Friday Night Lights, and is now releasing some content free for his fans every Sunday until his album drops on September 27. My iTunes has the three mix tapes, I get the content each Sunday and you can be sure that once September 27th rolls around I will be buying Cole World: The Sideline Story.