J. Cole is more of a storyteller than a rapper on Forest Hills Drive tour: Concert review


J. Cole is somewhat of an anomaly in today’s rap scene. He doesn’t hail from a popular city that breeds rap stars; he doesn’t rap about selling dope; and he doesn’t wear diamonds or gold necklaces. If rap was a sport, J.Cole could probably be equivalent to NBA guard Kevin Martin — a guy who can easily score 20 points every night without receiving much recognition because his style gets the job done without the need for highlights.

But J.Cole has positioned himself as one of the elite emcees. He stands alongside Kendrick Lamar and Drake as one of the more respected lyricists in rap.

On Aug. 15, J. Cole took his Forest Hills Drive tour to Atlanta. With a set that served as a replica to his childhood home, J. Cole opened with “January 28th.” After formally introducing himself, he revealed that he would perform the Forest Hills Drive album in its entirety.

He peformed “Wet Dreamz”, “03 Adolescence,” and “A Tale of 2 Cities.” After performing “St. Tropez,” he discussed the meaning of the song. J. Cole said the song represented the desires of a young, poor kid looking for a way to reach a place where only the wealthy could visit.

Similar to an unplugped set, J. Cole often told the background stories of songs that touched him the most. Before performing “No Role Modelz,” J. Cole shared the story of a confused woman who was looking for love on social media and at nightclubs instead of finding peace within.

On “Love Yourz,” J. Cole shared how money can never take the place of genuine love and happiness.

Once he covered the entire Forest Hills Drive album, J. Cole performed radio hits such as “Nobody’s Perfect” and “Crooked Smile.”

J. Cole achieves because he’s more interested in taking listeners on a journey than tricking them into liking a song by using a repetitive beat and hook. He’s mastered the art of storytelling and just happens to use rap as his vehicle.

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Photos: A.R. Shaw

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