The weather may have switched up on fans during Day 2 of the Billboard Hot 100 Festival, but the heavy layers of rain did little to shake away the committed members of J.Cole’s Dreamville fan squad. Prior to Jermaine’s dominating performance on Sunday (Aug. 21), fans jammed to a variety of artists such as Fetty Wap, Skylar Grey, Marshmello and Ariana Grande. This helped soothe their nerves before chants of the rapper’s name ran across the performance stage and throughout the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.
Cole hasn’t released any new material since his critically acclaimed album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive. After sarcastically calling it an “alright” album, the rapper jumps into “Fire Squad” and “Wet Dreamz,” tracks that were pure gold to fans but weren’t conventional singles to the masses. From the pit to the stands, his fans were truly members of the Dreamville family as they recited every word while Snapping profusely in soaked clothes. After the clouds parted briefly, Cole took a trip back to the classics. “It was hard for me to do these shows ‘cause I had no songs that was poppin’ on the radio,” the rapper said as the instrumental to “Lights Please” played. After fusing it with Erykah Badu’s whispy chorus from The Roots’ 1999 jam, “You Got Me,” the rapper jumps to the Drake-assisted favorite, “In The Morning” with a bunch of gleeful “awww man” comments following. “G.O.M.D” collectively brought everyone out of their feelings and into a frenzy.
“Can’t Get Enough,” “Work Out,” “Planez,” “Crooked Smile” and “Power Trip” came after the rapper toyed with the emotions of the crowd by giving an abrupt goodbye. It also wasn’t a true Cole show without any words of wisdom. Before performing “Love Yourz,” he confesses the message behind the closing song of the aforementioned album. “I grew up a lot, became a man during that s**t,” he said. “I wrote if for me but I feel like it could help somebody out here too.”
Cellphone flashlights replaced lighters in the crowd and the feeling of togetherness and love fell among those who probably wouldn’t speak to one another on the subway. It’s something only a hip-hop artist like Jermaine possesses; lighting up the crowd with the songs and messages they want to hear, no matter how old they may be. Not a bad superpower for a guy from Fayetteville who went platinum with no features.