by Brandon Zicari
Rapper J.Cole’s KOD tour made its way to Buffalo late last month, taking over First Niagara Center, the downtown arena where the Buffalo Sabers play. The stadium started to fill up as it was getting closer to the time J. Cole took the stage. Since he is more mainstream than Earthgang, a lot of people in the crowd were familiar with his music. Fans were jumping around to songs like “Pick up the phone” and “Digits”. Young Thug demonstrated his range however when his hit song “Relationship” came on, with the crowd raising their phones in the air as if they were lighters.
Before J. Cole came on stage – Earthgang and Young Thug were the opening acts – a large black banner was placed in front of the stage saying “Kids On Drugs King Overdose Kill Our Demons.” All of these sayings are from the name of J.Cole’s most recent album KOD. As the concert would progress, he would explain each term and what it meant to him. When the stage was set and the stadium was filled, the lights went out and the chorus to the song “Window Pain” started to play. As soon as the instrumentals started to pick up, J. Cole came out and everyone in the crowd got to their feet. One aspect that stood out was his appearance. Unlike the performers before him, J. Cole was not in any fancy or brand name clothes. He kept it simple wearing a baggy shirt with shorts. Although he did not look the part of a big name rapper, he performed like one. “Window Pain” is a very emotional song describing from a young girl who witnessed her cousin get shot. This is the opening track on KOD and it introduces the listener to the theme of the album. J. Cole would follow this song up with “A Tale of 2 Citiez” and “G.O.M.D.” from his most famous album 2014 Forrest Hills Drive. These tracks are lot more upbeat which got the audience screaming the lyrics and jumping around with J. Cole. Over his career he has created six albums which gave him a lot content to choose from. J. Cole would continue to perform a variety of songs from each of his albums, switching up the pace and keeping the stadium on its toes. Another aspect of the J. Cole concert that was different from others was that he did not bring out a hype man. Since rap songs are very fast paced an artist usually brings out another person to bridge each line so that the main artist can regain his or her breath. J. Cole however did not do this; he came out alone and kept his band hidden. All eyes and attention were on him which overall is his main goal. As time was becoming limited J. Cole ended the night with his two biggest songs “No Role Modelz” and “1985 – Intro to “The Fall Off.” With the crowd realizing the concert was coming to an end they gave all their energy to J. Cole as he did to them.
The concert started with Earthgang preforming first. They brought out good energy, preforming their hit songs such as “Meditate” and “Mama told me”. The Atlanta based rappers had the crowd on their feet and drew a very positive reaction, finishing their performance with “Missed Calls” and “Can’t call it”. The next person that was set to preform was Jaden Smith. Son of the famous Will Smith, Jaden has a few hit singles but for some unknown reason was not present at the concert. Since there was no second act, the stage crew got the place ready for the third act which was the one before J.Cole. While they were getting everything ready the DJ played music from J.Cole’s Dreamville label.
Over the years J. Cole has proven himself to be one of the most influential artist of our generation. He came on the scene in 2009 when he was signed to Jay Z’s label, when started to produce his albums. Now in 2018 he has shown that he has what it takes to be an A-list celebrity. The KOD tour has thirty six shows planned all through the United States. After the concert in Buffalo the crowd left with a message. Unlike other rappers, J. Cole uses his platform to speak about real issues like poverty and depression. His lyrics reflect his troubles and problems that other people have. This is why he gathers such a large fan base; he relates to so many and uses his lyrical prowess to really convey a theme of a song. People that attended the concert left just as happy as they came in.