For weeks, basically ever since J. Cole debuted the song "Crooked Smile," no one has been able to escape from it. It plays every three songs on the radio. That's fine - it's a great song. Solid flow, sing-along chorus (provided by TLC). Nice message. Easy to follow.
Nothing like J. Cole's show last night at the Midland.
The night opened up with a short quarter-hour set from Bas, an up-and-coming New York-based rapper who is signed to Cole's Dreamville label. Bas was energetic - even playful - and his set was all too brief.
Wale was up next, and he delivered a nicely sized set (around 45 minutes) that featured crowd favorites like "Rotation," which he dedicated to all those in the audience who liked to "smoke good and relax." Then he lit a bong onstage, an act that was mirrored throughout the audience. Little clouds of thick smoke wafted up to the ceiling, curling and dissipating.
At one point, Wale decided it was time for a little one-on-hundreds interaction. Aided by a personal posse of serious-looking musclemen, Wale jumped down and waded through throngs of screaming girls, serenading fans with "Clappers" and "Pretty Girls." Shortly after, he did some crowdsourcing for "two beautiful girls" to come onstage and dance with him while he performed "Diced Pineapples."
Approximately three days (or another 45 minutes) after Wale's set ended, J. Cole took the stage. The digital backdrop that served as Wale's stage setup was taken down to reveal a massive, tiered structure in which Cole's backing band and two female backup singers were arranged. The group was perfectly still as a screen played a fake news broadcast, letting the audience know that J. Cole and his crew had been involved in a car accident, and survival was uncertain.