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FRESHFARM workers ratify union agreement
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 15, 2024

J. Cole takes control of Constitution Hall

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Josh Solomon.

Roc Nation signee J. Cole was surprised by rap mogul Jay Z for his birthday show at Madison Square Garden Jan. 28.

J. Cole on stage in London in 2011. Photo used under the Wikimedia Commons license
J. Cole on stage in London in 2011. Photo used under the Wikimedia Commons license

In the District two nights later, Cole brought just his Dreamville group, who recently announced their signing to Interscope Records, to Constitution Hall for his What Dreams May Come Tour. As the frontman, Cole took the lead without any help from Jay Z or Kendrick Lamar or Wale, effectively wowing a sold out crowd of longtime followers.

Not only could fans hear Cole slightly slurring his lyrics as he stumbled on stage between swigs of Hennessy, but they also got involved, rapping along to whole verses and creating a somewhat intimate feeling despite the spacious hall.

During short skits, similar to the ones included on his certified gold album, “Born Sinner,” Cole dished out short anecdotes about his adventures in Europe. He said that sometimes during the tour he felt like Jay Z, while other times he felt like lesser-known rappers.

Although Cole had mixed feelings about past performances in the D.C. area, to the delight of the Constitutional Hall, he said he was pleasantly surprised he felt like superstar Jay Z Thursday night.

And even though Cole was confident throughout, there were a few hangups during the show. First, there was an awkward half-hour pause between the opening acts of Bas and Omen and Cole himself.

When he finally started his portion of the show, the hall was barely half full. But with no other guests and on the heels of a star-studded performance in New York, he gave a show that had fans enchanted with his current album and old favorites.

Before he performed a few songs from his earliest mix tapes, Cole thanked his fans, from the ones who had been there since day one and the ones who just knew one song. But for those new fans, he joked that this would be a good time for them to use the restroom or buy a drink. He assured the audience that he wanted just his fans and barely anyone budged. No one wanted to miss the songs that got them following Cole’s music in the first place.

In a more laid-back moment, Bas came back out to the stage asking Cole and the crowd for a lighter for his joint he said he had just rolled. After a couple jabs at each other, they transitioned into “Lit,” featured on Bas’ mixtape and the collective piece Dreamville dropped, “Revenge of the Dreamers.”

For the end of his act, Cole continued to interact with the fans, asking all the sections one last song they wanted to hear. His critically acclaimed, “Let Nas Down” almost won over the crowd, but instead it was the first track on his new album “Born Sinner,” called “Villumanti,” that took the final spot.

Fans threw up the “roc,” hip-hop’s famed hand symbol coined by Jay Z, as they and Cole chanted, “Sometimes I brag like Hov.” But as the concert ended with the Grammy-nominated “Power Trip” in the encore, it was clear it the J. Cole could handle the stage and the fame all by himself.

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