NEW YORK — In the old Roc-A-Fella days, Tuesday night would have been [artist id="3216320"]J. Cole[/artist]'s "Chaining Day," where the upstart rapper would have received a diamond necklace and pendant emblazoned with the logo from the record company [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist], Dame Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke founded.
Instead, Cole, the first artist signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation, did without the ceremonial theatrics and delivered a crowd-pleasing display of lyricism at his first headlining show in New York.
The St. John's University grad performed as a part of Hot 97's Who's Next Live at S.O.B.'s — last April, Drake headlined the same concert series.
"Jay told me, 'It's your first sold-out show in New York, so take a second after the first song,' " Cole told the crowd after breezing through a medley of "Dollar and a Dream II" and "World Is Empty." "And step back and share it with y'all. So that's what I'm doing."
The North Carolina native then spent the next hour running through a number of tracks from his standout mixtape The Warm Up and various guest appearances he's made in the past months with Wale, Talib Kweli and Young Chris.
"I'm definitely in a class of my own, at dinner with Hov/ Hoping that he pass the baton, he just pass the Patrón," J. Cole rapped to Wale's "Beautiful Bliss." "Ain't nothing given, dog, it's earned/ If you just living, dog, you'll learn/ I let you n---as see the light, I'm like the prison yard, I yearn/ For that living large, but mama I ain't done yet/ Sit back and watch your sun rise and know that your son's set, forever."
Kweli joined him onstage, as the two traded verses over the Brooklyn rapper's "Get By." The veteran MC called Cole "the future of hip-hop" before they jumped into their collaboration on Reflection Eternal's "Just Begun."
Young Chris also made an appearance — he and Cole took turns paying homage to the Roc, both the gold old days and the present, on "Still the Hottest."
During the show, Cole shouted out Kanye West, who, like the Roc Nation MC, raps and produces and who also had a well-received breakout show at S.O.B.'s back in 2004.
"I was standing right where you were," he said, as an 18-year-old college freshman. "So I appreciate you coming out in this weather."
Fellow XXL magazine 2010 "Freshman 10" rappers Nipsey Hussle and Pill were also present.
Outasight, XV and Jaeo Draftpick also performed as a part of the showcase.
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