It wasn’t nothing like that first time J. Cole returned to his alma mater, St. John’s University, as a rapper. At the 2010 Spring Fling concert, Jermaine Cole was still the buzzworthy North Carolina MC Jay Z co-signed with a heap of heat on his two mixtapes The Come Up and The Warm Up. Secondly, Cole was still rocking a buzz cut.
Five years later, the six-foot-three rapper is looking out at the sea of students and alumni packing the Carnesseca Arena and soaking in the adoration. Presented by the Haraya Club (the pan-African student coalition where Cole was once president), the intimate concert on Thursday night (April 9) showed the former Communications major in a different light. The Cole who graduated magna cum laude with a business minor was no longer worrying about being broke, getting a deal or bagging the girl of his dreams.
These days, the confident spitter is caking, reportedly engaged and the boss of his Dreamville label, alongside fellow STJ alum, Ibrahim “Ib” Hamad.
Great night at SJU. The team mobbed the stage, Cole was back where it started, lot of friends and family came out and my mom was dancing lol
— Ibrahim H. (@KingOfQueenz) April 10, 2015
Tonight, Team Dreamville is in attendance. Cole’s artists Bas, Cozz and Omen rocked the mic as his opening acts—a smart move given Cole’s mission as heard on “G.O.M.D.”: “Dreamville, give us a year we’ll be on every show/Yeah, f-ck n-gga I’m very sure.”
As the man of the night hit the stage, smartphones shot up to capture Cole’s return. He’s playful on stage, commenting on the University’s upgrades since he graduated and making jokes about being a “thirsty n-gga” on Instagram. He’s also singing a good amount, especially for cuts off his third album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, which hit platinum last month.
Tracks like “Wet Dreamz,” Tale of 2 Citiez,” “Fire Squad” and “G.O.M.D.” set the Catholic school crowd off while his more mainstream records like “Work Out,” “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Crooked Smile” and the finale “Power Trip” have the arena belting notes on notes. Not too shabby for a second homecoming.
Double tap some moments from the STJ show below.