This year at Bonnaroo, J. Cole is listed as fourth on a heavy-hitting 15th anniversary lineup. Other artists who have been billed in this spot include; Kendrick Lamar, Lionel Richie, Jay-Z and Nine Inch Nails, to put the #4 slot into perspective. With Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly being ranked the No. 1 Album of 2015 by Billboard, Consequence of Sound, and Pitchfork, similarities begin to be drawn, and it begs the question: What will Bonnaroo attendees receive from the fast-rising artist? Will this show be the Kendrick of 2015? You be the judge, check out J. Cole performing “Can’t Get Enough” at Made in America Music Festival 2014.
On 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the rapper performs with a young Kanye-like tenacity. He’s confident, cocky and inspired, yet shows a vulnerability not found in many mainstream artists. It’s also notable that Cole has several songs with steady radio play such as “No Role Modelz” and “Planez” so his audience is widening. In an age where the top hip-hop artists tend to over-autotune every track (Future), the subject matter on top 40 radio is dumbed down and repetitive (Fetty Wap), J. Cole is proving you don’t need to always rap about money and bitches, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt.
In 2014, 31 year-old Jermaine Lamarr Cole (aka J. Cole) became the first rapper to go platinum in 25 years without features from other artists with 2014 FHD. Cole’s first mixtape, 2011’s Friday Night Lights, won Best Mixtape from BET’s Hip-Hop Awards. He is also the founder of The Dreamville Foundation (Fayetteville, NC) whose mission is “To reveal to the urban youth, their limitless potential, through positive life-altering experiences.”
For a quick crash-course on J.Cole, check out the four-part HBO Documentary “Forest Hills Drive: Homecoming.” The concert footage from the series can be viewed here.
For more, check out Our Take on Bonnaroo’s lineup.