J.Cole gave his diehard fans plenty of nostalgia and a glimpse of the future, when his Dollar And A Dream Tour touched down in New York City on Tuesday night. The Roc Nation rapper performed his 5-year-old breakout mixtape, The Warm Up, in full and the newest Dreamvillain, California rapper Cozz, got an official introduction.
The energy in Highline Ballroom was electric, packed with fans who braved the rain all day, as they stood on line to get $1 tickets for the show. But a little rain never hurt anyone, right? When Cole thanked them for braving "the hurricane," the crowd erupted in raucous cheers.
Earlier in the night, Omen and Dreamville's first official signee, Bas, warmed up the crowd and proved that the "N----a Who Ain't Got Alotta Fans" is actually growing a pretty significant fanbase. Hands were in the air, as everyone rapped along to "My N----a Just Made Bail" and "Lit" -- but one of the most touching moments came when he introduced Cozz.
The 20-year-old rapper became the latest addition to Cole's Dreamville label last month, and Bas (who first hit the road on last year's Dollar And A Dream tour) was beaming as he introduced him for his first live performance. You're never too young to pass the torch.
If the South Central native was nervous about his first performance, we certainly couldn't tell. He and Bas teamed up for "We Made It" from the Queens rapper's Two Weeks Notice EP, and the crowd flipped. Cozz's West Coast energy adds another dimension to the label, which previously only boasted East Coast lyricists -- with a special emphasis on lyricists.
When Cole finally hit the stage, he dove straight into The Warm Up's "Welcome," "Can I Live," and "Young Simba," eventually breaking to remind fans that they'd be hearing nothing but tracks from that mixtape throughout the night.
Absolutely no one was mad at that.
I took my eyes off Cole for long enough to notice that most of the crowd was able to spit along with him, line for line, including the lucky lady who he pulled onstage to co-pilot "Dreams" (nope, he didn't hit "Power Trip," despite some begging from the crowd).
By the end of the night, fans were pleading for "Lights Please," but for those of us who've caught plenty of Cole shows in the past, it was the other 15-plus tracks that we were dying to hear. "Dead Presidents II," and "Losing My Balance," for example -- personal favorites -- didn't disappoint, and it was exhilarating to finally be reciting the lyrics out loud, along with hundreds of other fans.
Despite the awful weather, the North Carolina rapper managed to sell out two back-to-back shows on Tuesday night, and Mack Wilds made a cameo during the second set to show some love.
The Dreamville team looks pretty good from where I'm standing.