Dig Baton Rouge


By Pat Gunther

As part of his North American spring tour, hip-hop icon J. Cole is slated to make a pit stop at the Varsity Theatre on Tuesday, March 24. The Fayetteville, North Carolina native is out on the road promoting his latest hit record 2014 Forest Hills Drive that he dropped rather quietly in the twilight of 2014. Since lecturing at Harvard on Feb. 26th, Cole has been grinding on the road.

I’ve been planning to do a college tour since I came into the game about four years ago,” he told David Shapiro of Interview Magazine this year. “I’ve always envisioned going out on the road and going to colleges, doing a half-show, half-forum type thing,” Cole stated referencing his more intellectual half of the tour. The other part, his energetic and consistently sold out performances are sure to bring the max capacity to the already sold out Varsity show.

This album, then, is representative of a new, more self-aware and content Cole. After returning to his former home, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, Cole spent the winter meeting up with fans that tweeted him and signing their copies of the record.

That’s what Hollywood represents versus 2014 Forest Hills Drive, which is home. Home is wherever the authentic, unconditional love is,” Cole told Damien Scott of Complex Magazine in December.

The fake shit, the synthesized love, is Hollywood. I ran from Fayetteville to New York, from New York to everywhere, ultimately looking for what? For love—respect and love from my peers, love from the fans, love from the critics. I’ve learned that none of that shit is real,” he introspectively added in reference to his personal strides since the release of critically acclaimed Born Sinner.

With stops across the country and laid-back hang out sessions with fans, it’s clear that the new J. Cole is attempting to bring “home” with him during his months on the road. Reviews from the Consequence of Sound detail Cole playing the fan-favorite 2014 Forest Hills Drive cover-to-cover in Santa Ana before throwing T-shirts into the crowd, which erupted in chants of “we made it!”

If that is any portent of things to come, Cole’s show on the 24th promises to be chock full of love, nostalgia, high energy, and political awareness that will undoubtedly have the crowd rocking for his time onstage. The cunning wordplay and deft lyricism are Cole’s signature tools, and on his three-act tour finishing in Quebec, Cole has made it his aim to bring a sense of community to the stage, and by virtue, the fans.


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