J. COLE 3Arena, Dublin
The 3Arena crowd’s passion for North Carolina star J Cole is quite staggering. As the rapper emerges onto the stage – which has a prison yard backdrop – a chunk of the audience surge to the front, putting real pressure on the people aalready at the barriers. Cole himself has to avert any crisis by imploring everyone to take a step back, warning that otherwise the show will be cancelled.
Order thankfully restored, the singer kicks into a series of tracks from his latest album, 4 Your Eyez
Only. ‘Ville Mentality’ and ‘Déjà vu’ are incredibly well executed, though Cole does seem to overstretch his voice during the energetic chorus of ‘Immortal’. Just before an incredibly smooth duet with Ari Lennox on ‘Change’, the singer takes the time to pay
respects to his great-grandmother – who, it turns out, sailed on a boat from Ireland to America 90 years ago.
The second act features a mix of tracks from throughout his career, with highlights including ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and love song ‘Foldin Clothes’. Midway through more recent tune ‘Neighbours’, he asks the audience if they know the meaning behind the song. This is the cue for some real life footage of a SWAT team breaking down the doors of Cole’s North Carolina home. “The neighbours think I’m
selling coke,” he raps, in a line that captures the sad state of American race relations.
The third act rounds things off nicely with songs from 2014’s
Forest Hills Drive, undoubtedly Cole’s finest record. ‘Love Yourz’ and ‘Wet Dreams’ show the rapper at his rawest and most earnest, while ‘G.O.M.D’ attacks the complacency of modern rap (notably, he doesn’t spare himself in the critique).
The evening concludes with the take-no-prisoners ‘No Role Modelz’; the sample of George Bush bungling the ‘Fool Me Once’ proverb followed by a gloriously catchy refain. A winning end to a brilliant night.
Saint’s alive!: Annie Clark
In goth we trust: The Horrors