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J. Cole performs during his "Forest Hills Drive Tour" at Shoreline Amphitheatre on July 14, 2015 in Mountain View, California.
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Review: 10 Thoughts On J. Cole's '2014 Forest Hills Drive' Tour

Here are some takeaways from VIBE's recent trip to Cole World.

In front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night (Aug. 4), J. Cole is treating the stage as his personal stoop. Offering hilarious, personal anecdotes like a Kevin Hart stand-in, the tall, lanky rapper is sporting a wild Weeknd-esque hairstyle for what could be considered his homecoming show on the 2014 Forest Hills Drive tour.

One borough away lies St. John's University's Queens campus where the New York-by-way-of-North Carolina rep graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2007, duking it out with Sallie Mae and stressing over bank overdrafts. Nearly eight years later, he's doing way better than good enough. As the founder of Dreamville Records and one of the most revered wordsmiths in the millennial age, Cole is living out the very fantasies he would dream about as a broke undergrad.

But for his New York City tour stop, Cole blessed his second home with a good time, great songs and the best version of himself. Here are some takeaways from our recent trip to Cole World.

1. J. Cole could be a stand-up comic. While running through his full-length masterpiece that shares the tour's namesake, he manages to squeeze in emoji-worthy narratives that set the scene for his deep and not-so-deep cuts. Before launching into his anti-ho anthem, "No Role Modelz," Cole relays the lessons he's learned from Hollywood. He warns of "phony n***as" and signs of a chick who may be "f**ked up." "She has a artificial a**, that's my first clue," he said, as creepy Michael Myers sounds play in the background. "Sh*t feel like a bag of wet cement mixed with some SuperGlue rubber adhesive type sh*t. It's f**kin' weird. I don't even know if I like it. [Pauses.] No, I hate it. It's disgusting." Second clue was revealing Instagram thirst traps with Deepak Chopra-esque captions "that ain't got sh*t to do with the picture I just got done looking at." Cole even calls out one dude in the audience, dubbing him a "zoomer," or a fellow who zooms into a woman's sexy Instagram flick.

2. Jeremih needs to stop playing and drop this Late Nights: The Album A.S.A.P. With a slew of hits in the stash like his breakout single "Birthday Sex" to his DJ Mustard-produced jam "Don't Tell 'Em," the timing couldn't be riper for the Ratchet&B crooner. He also re-appears for a live rendition of his elevated love song, "Planes" alongside Cole. [Insert praise hands emojis here.]

#latepass: tripped when these two performed "planes" #2014foresthillsdrivetour

A video posted by adelle (@adelleplaton) on

3. YG hosted a gangsta party with cuts from his should-have-been-Grammy-nominated LP My Krazy Life. With W's in the air and a special cameo from Harlemite, A$AP Ferg, for "Work," Bompton's very own made the Empire State a welcome West Coast affair.

4. Big Sean packed his aspirational mantras and middle fingers for the warm-up set before Cole. In front of a makeshift bar called "Paradise Liquor," Sean Don cycled through his recent release Dark Sky Paradise, capping off with the overt F.U. single, "IDFWU." Peak moment: shouting out his late grandmama before orchestrating an iPhone light show for "One Man Can Change The World."

#latepass: in case you needed a reminder from big sean #2014foresthillsdrivetour

A video posted by adelle (@adelleplaton) on

5. J. Cole knows why he's here. For his headlining gig at the "world's most famous arena," Cole appears in his usual low-profile uniform of a black tee, black shorts, black socks, white sneaks and zero bling. It could have easily been the same 'fit at a show for his Dollar & A Dream tour (the gig where he charged fans one George Washington bill for admission to his more intimate shows) but even at MSG, Cole genuinely suits up like a college student ready to shoot hoops with a swag that doesn't come off corny but rather, real.

READ: Review: A St. John’s University Grad Reflects On J. Cole’s ‘Dollar And A Dream Tour II’ NYC Show & His Humble Beginnings

6. Despite sing-rapping about dreams of fame and fortune on "St. Tropez," Cole admitted he never hit up the French Riviera hot spot. He reminisces on moving to New York City at 18 years old from his native Fayetteville, North Carolina home and taking a leap of faith:

"The name of the song is "St. Tropez" but New York, if I'm being honest with y'all, then the truth is I don't actually even know where the f*ck St. Tropez is at on a map. I don't know where it's at. If you paid me a million dollars right now, I couldn't point to it on a map. I don't give a f*ck, honestly. I don't care. What I do know is St. Tropez seems like the type of place that really rich people go to when they have a lot of bread, they wanna get photographed on yachts in bikinis, holding champagne glasses and sh*t so therefore, it seems like the type of place I want to go to one day but when I talk about St. Tropez on this song, it's just a metaphor. This song about is when you come from a small city like me ... a lot of times you suffer from a small town mentality. That means you grew up your whole life, seeing sh*t on TV and on the movies, places like St. Tropez, places like Paris, France; London, England; Los Angeles, California, f**kin' New York city. We see places like this and you tell yourself when you a little kid like, 'Yo, one day when I get older, I'ma go there. I gotta go there.' But what ends up happening? As you get older, because you suffer from a small town mentality, you become comfortable in your safe zone, safe area and you're too afraid to leave. ... This song is actually about how I had to overcome that small town mentality and say f*ck it."

7. While songs like "G.O.M.D." and "Wet Dreamz" would be nails-to-chalkboard for a concerned mother, Cole's high-energy jams have even the most timid on their feet. Lines like "Get off my d*ck" and "I ain't even did this before" are automatic crowd chants and cues for any haters to proceed to the nearest exit. Despite flourishing off album no. 3, Cole consistently addresses the Average Joes and Janes who are still figuring out their own come-up.

8. With J. Cole's name illuminated on the MSG marquee, no big-name features hailing from New York appeared for his set (Where ya at, Hov?). Yet, day-one loyalists left satisfied. Tracks from his first two albums, Cole World: The Sideline Story and Born Sinner don't make the set list, except his usual trifecta of radio hits for the closer including "Can't Get Enough," "Crooked Smile" and "Power Trip."

9. Cole leaves his fears on the stage. While performing a project in its entirety isn't the norm for hip-hop concerts, Cole treats 2014 Forest Hills Drive as proof he is still the same Cole from Fayettenam. "I been touring for five or six years, and I can tell you, n***as don't come and do this sh*t. They don't perform their whole albums and I know why. Two reasons: the first reason being they albums f**kin' suck. [Laughs.] The second reason—which is the real reason—as an artist, it's the scariest thing in the world to put your heart and soul into this song. You bleeded on this song and then you come do that song at the shows, but because it's not the radio record or the f**kin' club song, you come perform it and the crowd is lookin' at you like... [Puts on disinterested face.] "This n***a." Why he not doing a song with Rich Homie Quan? I don't f**kin' understand." But I had to say, 'F**k it and get over that fear because this album mean a lot to me. It is very f**kin' important that I did it like this."

He continues with his album's mission statement like a presidential candidate on a campaign run: "When we young and even when we old, the world is constantly, constantly pumping us with images and messages about what life is supposed to be about and what it takes to make this happen. In the United States, we call it the American Dream. But what does it include all the time? A lot of f**kin' money, a big a** house, a brand new car and a wife that's, like, not even genetically possible to have ... I'm the same dude on the other side of the fence."

10. The appropriate tagline for Cole's shows could be a remix of the old Gatorade slogan: "Anything I can do, you can do better." Cole raps like he is always on the cusp of success, even if he has far surpassed it. His roots and imperfect past remain the fuel for his progress. He's also the type of rapper to remind you to call your mom and guilt your a** if you don't. As a prelude to his performance of "Hello," he pulls the curtain back on his thought process while dealing with the f**kery of the music biz and missing home sweet home. "You start thinking about sh*t like that, trying to connect with what's real. You call your mother, start to think of your homeboys back home, start thinking about old relationships..." As long as Cole remembers where he's been, there's no telling how much further he can—and will—go.

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A$AP Ferg (L) and A$AP Rocky attend A$AP Mob Yams Day 2019 at Barclays Center on January 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Yams Day 2019 Was A Millennial Hypebeast's Wet Dream

It's somewhat fitting that the theme for the 2019 Yams Day is WWE wrestling. While it pays homage to the late Yams' favorite sport and pastime, it perfectly encapsulates today's concert culture for the millennial hypebeast.

After wading in the brisk weather of one of the colder Thursday's of Jan. 2019, 20-somethings and late 90s babies flocked to their assigned sections of Brooklyn's Barclays Center to pay tribute to the founder member and enjoy A$AP Rocky's "Injured Generation Tour."

The crowd is more salt than peppered, even more than a Lil Wayne concert. Puffer jackets decorate the rows of the rickety stadium chairs. And young clear girls donning cornrows, tube tops, cropped shirts, and a rainbow of colored, high-waisted camo pants weave in and out of the aisles. Boys in beanies, florescent skullcaps, and cross-body bags are seen down below migrating in huddles by the main stage and sub-arena masquerading as a wrestling ring. If you needed a gentle reminder of just how influential black culture can be, you found it here.

Rocky, the mob's fierce leader, encouraged the crowd to form a pit in the center of the venue. And just like WWE, a single spotlight highlights the pit as shirtless boys crash into one another, limbs failing and heads bobbing. It surely looks like it hurts, but as mentioned several times throughout the night, it's all for show, and for fun of course.

Each mosh is ricocheted off of one another so much so that from the lower level (which is actually one level above the floor), looked like a violent sea rolling up to shore.

The only thing keeping these kids up, besides the body of the person beside them, seems to be the revolving doors of performers which included a long list of ragers like Ski Mask the Slump God, Flatbush Zombies, Joey Bada$$, Metro Boomin, and of course A$AP Mob.

Weed fogs the air as fans light up to commemorate the fallen members of hip-hop. That includes more than Yams today, as XXXTentacion recently passed away in 2018. And it wouldn't be a night if someone didn't yell "Free Tekashi 6ix9ine." "No one deserves to be locked up," it was stated.

"Millennial" and "hypebeast" haven't always found the perfect harmony, but when they do it produces a unique experience. Black boy joy is one of the better products. A$AP Ferg and a variety of other friends and family partake in a fun-loving game of dance-tag, flinging their arms and bodies around as Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz's "Uproar" cuts on. Other jams of the present and past like Crime Mob's "Knuck If You Buck" and Kendrick Lamar's "M.a.A.d city" also blast through the speakers, while the n-word echoes through the spot.

 

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$ummer $lam or #YamsDay? 😂

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Millennials are fearless. What's more courageous than the kids entering the pits of destruction, are the musical acts that run off the cliff of the stage into the audience. They are so certain their fans will catch them, they often dive head first, flipping into piles of extended arms.

The surprise guests of the night, Meek Mill and Soulja Boy, are perhaps the most trending acts in the social realm. Soulja Boy reenacts comedic interview from The Breakfast Club, reciting "Draakee" as he walks from one end of the stage to the next. Meek creates a "moment," performing "Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)."

 

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Bedtime is approaching but there's not a yawn in sight around this crew. If you're looking for the millennials, you can find them turning up at Barclays.

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Joey Purp Gives New York A Taste of ‘QUARTERTHING’ At Album Listening Party

Chicago’s Joey Purp is making his long-awaited return to the hip-hop scene this Friday (Sept. 7) with his forthcoming project, QUARTERTHING. We haven’t heard much from Purp besides a pair of loosies (“March 12th”, “Bag Talk”) and a few guest features with Vic Mensa (“Down for Some Ignorance”)and more over the last two years. But make no mistake, Purp has been hard at work crafting the follow-up to his promising 2016 mixtape, iiiDrops.

To celebrate the impending release, Purp took to New York City’s Golden Unicorn in Chinatown Thursday night (Sept. 5) to host an intimate listening party for the project. Draped in an Adidas track jacket, black pants, and a pair of white Nike Air Force Ones, Purp was in high spirits throughout the night, mingling and taking pictures with those in attendance. While the space felt like a mix between a high school reunion and a karaoke bash, Chicago’s essence was felt by way of Purp’s crew and beer provided by Chicago-based brewery, Goose Island. It was a festive affair as guests took in Purp’s new music with head nods and a few dance moves showing their approval of the project.

“QUARTERTHING” is about life,” Purp said on the concept of his new project. “My life and the lives of people that I know. It’s just about us in every sense of the word.” The 14-track project features rap royalty like RZA and GZA, with fellow Chi-town wunderkinds like Queen Key, CDOT Honcho, and Ravyn Lenae.

What’s sure to bring in new fans are the variety of production on QUARTERTHING being handled by Smoko Ono, DJ Khalil, Thelonious Martin, Knox Fortune, and Nate Fox of The Social Experiment.

 

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QUARTERTHING SEP. 7, 2018

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The biggest reactions from the project came from the hard-hitting “God Body Pt. 2” featuring RZA and introspective “24/k Gold/Sanctified” featuring Ravyn Lenae. There’s a little bit of everything on the album from braggadocious raps on “Look At My Wrist” to the speaker rattling records like “QUARTERTHING.” Purp explained the diverse music scene he was exposed to growing up in Chicago helped inspire the sound of the project as he was applauded for incorporating Chicago house music on “Elastic” and Chicago Juke on “Aw S**t!” The record “Lebron James” received the most adulation as Purp is heard rapping over gritty production reminiscent of the early 90s hip-hop scene.

“It’s cool seeing everybody here. I’m grateful. Grateful for the love and people that are interested in hearing this project,” Purp tells VIBE after the event. Despite being absent from the limelight, Purp is confident in his path.

“Whatever God has in store for me I’m ready. Whether it's being on top of the world or at the bottom of the bottom. That’s what’s meant to happen and it’s going to happen.”

Purp recently released “Elastic,” which also features a perfect Billy Squire sample. QUARTERTHING arrives on streaming platforms Friday.

In the meantime, jam to “Elastic” below.

QUARTERTHING tracklist 1 “24/k Gold/Sanctified” (Feat. Rayvn Lenae) 2 “God Body Pt. 2 (Feat. RZA) 3 “Hallelujah” 4 “Elastic” 5 “Aw Shit!” 6 “QUARTERTHING” 7 “Paint Thinner” 8 “Look @ My Wrist” (Feat. CDot Honcho) 9 “2012” 10 “Fessional/Diamonds Dancing” (Feat. Queen Key) 11 “Karl Malone” 12 “Bag Talk” 13 “LeBron James (Thelonious Martin)” 14 “In The Morning” (Feat. GZA)

READ MORE: Joe Budden Talks Creative Beefs With Diddy And Leaving Rap Behind

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Drake performs onstage at Madison Square Garden on August 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
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Drake And Migos Light Up Brooklyn With Hits At Barclays Center

Drake and Migos gave Brooklyn a party Friday night (Aug. 31) as fans filled the cavernous halls of the Barclays Center for the highly-anticipated Aubrey & The Three Migos Tour. In support of his record-breaking number one album, Scorpion, the 6 God embarked on a 57-date tour across the country, hitting cities like Chicago, Toronto, Miami, and Boston.

With New York holding a special place in Drizzy’s heart, the Big Apple is getting quite the treatment with Drake and Migos performing seven shows in nine nights. It was an energetic night as both the 6 God and the Atlanta trio delivered incredible sets giving Brooklyn fans an exciting show to remember.

Migos got the night off to an explosive start as the group ran through their extensive catalog of hit records. Classics like “Hannah Montana,” “Handsome & Wealthy” and “Pipe It Up” delighted fans who rapped along. Migos’ electrifying presence brought on boisterous cheers from the Brooklyn crowd as highlights from Culture and Culture II, including “Narcos” and “Slippery,” rang through the Barclays Center.

Audio feedback issues during their set caused no problems, as they maneuvered through “Kelly Price” and “Deadz” without missing a beat. Before making their exit, Quavo praised the old and new fans for their nonstop support saying, “Thank you for making us the number one group in the world.”

As fans were still gathering themselves after Migos’ thrilling set, Drake wasted no time diving into the A Side catalog of his latest album, with hard-hitting tracks like “Talk Up,” “Mob Ties,” and “Energy” booming through the giant speakers stationed high above the stage.

Fans rapped alongside Drizzy on “Elevate” and “Emotionless” while marveling at the bright, miniature drones on stage and the inflatable yellow Ferrari making its rounds through the arena during Drake’s guest verse on “Yes Indeed.”

“This that Friday night Brooklyn sh**,” Drake said in response to the raw Brooklyn energy that radiated throughout the venue. “This not Madison Square Garden. We definitely in Brooklyn tonight.”

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Drake took a moment to speak on his long history with New York City before jumping into a medley of his throwback records. “Do you realize how long we’ve been together,” Drake asked as he reminisced on the moments he’s experienced in the city —- like his first performance at the famed SOB’s or hearing “Best I Ever Had” on the iconic radio station Hot 97. Fans wallowed in the retro vibes as Drake blazed through a vintage medley that included “Trophies,” “Over,” “Headlines,” “Yolo,” and more.

Migos, French Montana (who served as a surprise guest) and a group of backup dancers joined Drizzy on stage to bring the night to an even higher level. After their fiery set earlier in the night, Migos kept the momentum going with a lively performance of their collaborative banger with Drake “Walk It Talk It.” The quartet followed that up by rapping through their respective verses on “Versace” with quickfire precision. French Montana joined the party afterward, performing his standout chorus on Fat Joe and Remy Ma’s “All The Way Up” and his number one record “Unforgettable.”

After a brief intermission, Drizzy put a smooth relaxing vibe on the night as he moved on to his B Side records. Performing mostly R&B hits, Drake sang his way into the hearts of all the women in the audience belting out vocals for “Jaded” and the Michael Jackson-assisted “Don’t Matter to Me” while also covering the King of Pop’s timeless record “Rock With You.”

Acknowledging the strong, independent women in the audience, Drake had the ladies in their bag with “That’s How You Feel” and “Nice For What” while recognizing Brooklyn’s rich reggae history with “Controlla” and “Work.” The troupe of dancers joined him on stage once again, taking part in the Shiggy Challenge during a booming performance of “In My Feelings.”

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As the show neared its end, a tireless Drake reignited the flames with his guest verses on Blockboy JB’s “Look Alive” and Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.” Drake kept his foot on the pedal with “Nonstop” and “I’m Upset” before taking another moment to reflect on his early beginnings.

A video montage showcasing a young Drake alongside his longtime friends and OVO brothers 40, Oliver, and Future played on the screen above the stage. The crowd cheered and applauded Drake’s 10-year journey that took him from his mother’s basement in Toronto to becoming one of hip-hop’s titans.

When the video finished, Drake got right into the anthemic “God’s Plan” with massive amounts of confetti falling from the rafters. While fans relished at the moment Drake left the OVO faithful with a moving, uncharacteristically sociopolitical message.

“All of us are living in a country where we have to deal with people telling us we don’t understand, how divided we are, and how bad sh** is getting and how we gotta deal with this fu**ing idiot that’s in office,” Drake said.

“They’ll sit there and tell us this country is falling apart because of us. But tonight we got 16,000 people from all different backgrounds inside one building and all we’re doing is chilling and having a good time. This is how the country should be.”

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