J. Cole is a complex artist indeed, and his set at this year’s Made In America festival serves as yet another piece of proof.
Before making his way to the Liberty Stage at Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Parkway, Cole employed an emotional and metaphoric introduction. To the tune of his on-wax reaction to the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, his set began with a video montage of decades of police brutality. From the Civil Rights era to the killing of Eric Garner, the rapper’s “Be Free” served as the backdrop for a hard-to-watch, but necessary opening. The clip ended with the text: “MADE IN AMERICA” before Cole transitioned into his Friday Night Lights cut “Enchanted.”
Though beginning on a somber note for somber times, J. Cole’s set would soon turn into a barrage of fan favorites as the rapper belted out tracks like “Lights Please,” “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Work Out” and “Can’t Get Enough.” He even shared the stage with Dreamville emcee Bas for a joint performance of “Lit.” He closed out his nearly hour-long set with the Born Sinner hit “Power Trip.”
Watch J. Cole own the 2014 Made In America stage in the video above.