J.Cole @ HBF Stadium
w/ BAS, J.I.D, Earth Gang
Saturday, December 9, 2017
I’ll admit I’ve never been huge in the hip hop scene so maybe this was a lot more apparent to others but I’m not quite sure when J. Cole made the transition into a very popular worldwide sensation. These things obviously never happen overnight but it seemed in 2014 one day he was just suddenly there bringing out tracks that would have had even Kanye a little concerned. Selling out tickets almost instantly, the hunger, the hype was definitely real.
With a few other huge international hip hop artists in his arsenal. Earth Gang, J.I.D and BAS made sure to get the whole of HBF stadium ready and heaving for the main act.
The break between songs saw not just some light tinkering of instruments and audio but a complete stage overhaul. Surveillance signage, street light poles and something a lot bigger behind the curtain was being constructed, while a static version of a crowd cam gave us the feeling of being watched. I assume the whole point to this tour being named (after latest album) 4 Your Eyez Only.
As the lights dimmed and the screams grew, the curtain dropped to reveal a whole prison cell. Donning an orange jumpsuit, J. Cole was released from behind bars and went straight to the mic to kick it off with Immortal.
As it was his first time in Perth he played a lot of his classics mixed with a lot off of his new album and every track from start to end was met with ecstatic enthusiasm. Between each song he gave us context, a backing story – pulled us in with his experiences and how they’ve shaped him.
Most memorable was the inspiration behind Neighbours, with real live footage of a swat team breaking into his North Carolina home in the search for drugs; he shed some light on authority and misconceptions in the police force. At other times he preached about a vile mentality of just living in the moment, having no idea about the future or dreaming for tomorrow and trying to become a better a person for the future. He played devil’s advocate with his own thoughts and showed his respect for that way of living too by highlighting how much easier it is to appreciate what you have right in front of you.
The live band was hidden in the back behind bars, which definitely created a sense of separation and cast a light of higher importance on J. Cole but it really was his solo act that deepened the connection between the audience and artist. Heading towards the end we got a shortened version of G.O.M.D. and a whole lot of vinyl scratching for some real old school hip hop vibes as he came to wrap up a lengthy show.
The whole night genuinely felt real and alive and it all came from his energy jumping around on stage and from the fans spitting every bar back to him. I don’t think there would have been a single person left disappointed that night and Perth remains humble and gracious.
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