Issue 76

Monthly newspaper and online publication targeting 18 to 35 year olds. The ultimate guide to the hottest parties, going out and having fun. Music, fashion, film, travel, festivals, technology, comedy, and parties! London, Barcelona, Miami and Ibiza.

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Page 52 of 65

The majority of money in music nowadays is made on the road with it being one of few mediums unaffected by the piracy epidemic. This has increased fans' expectations who want to see a show they won't forget, perhaps with a surprise guest appearance from another performer seizing the opportunity to increase their live-show fan base. The warm up acts were of a calibre worth arriving on time for. Some unfortunate queue choices meant we missed Bas, Cozz and Omen but managed to catch Pusha T remind London why it pays to be a rapper in Kanye West's inner circle. The bass on 'Numbers On The Boards' and 'Nosetalgia' was all we needed to get over being sat as far from the stage as possible. Meanwhile, the energy was raised for 'Mercy' and 'I Don't Like', which had everyone in the seated areas up and bouncing like it was the main event. Jhene Aiko followed with a more tranquil approach; the hippy balance to the beats floated through her set, as she stated that "it's not about perfection, it's all about connection". She drew the most applause for 'The Worst' and her feature verses on Drake's 'From Time' and Omarion's 'Post To Be'. It was a welcome chance for the crowd to get its breath back after the energy of Pusha T and rounded off a strong warm up. We last saw J. Cole when he played at Wireless Festival 2014. He took the slot before Outkast and was seen after on the large screens vibing to Outkast's set for 'Da Art Of Storytellin' (Part 1)', a song which J.Cole sampled for 'LAnd of the Snakes'. Before that we saw him at Hammersmith Apollo in 2013 when, joined by French Montana as a surprise guest, he promised the next time we'd see him he'd be playing The O2 Arena. 18 months on and here he is, Jermaine Cole, playing songs at The O2 Arena from the first hip-hop album with no features to go platinum in 25 years. The last album to do so was Vanilla Ice's debut Ice Ice Baby. Cole announced early on he was keen to play every song on the album by the end of the night, a risky approach rarely adopted for an arena tour. No one expected to hear 'Wet Dreamz' so early but it set the night off well. It was important that the sound was correct for the story-telling qualities of J. Cole's music to work. You could hear every lyric and the live band complemented each track and interlude brilliantly in a nature more akin to an intimate jazz show. The set was filled with witty social commentary discussing the real life inspirations behind each song with humour and charm. There were breaks from Forest Hills Drive tracks to bring the tempo back up for 'Power Trip' and 'She Knows' from 'Born Sinner', and there was something for the "day one fans" with 'In The Morning' and 'Higher' from his Friday Night Lights mixtape. The gig wasn't just a collection of his most applauded songs, it was a journey through J. Cole's musical graduation from past times, him tirelessly freesttyling over the voicemails of record label employees after finding them on Myspace, right through to the platinum-album-selling, arena-filling present. The introduction to 'Love Yourz' was a great moment as J.Cole, someone who's lived on both sides of the American dream, spoke of the importance of having people around you that truly love you over material possessions. Another memorable interlude preceded 'No Role Modelz', which drew both laughs and nervous glances when Cole pointed out that the female inspiration for the song had butt implants, something he determined should have been a key indicator of a her craziness. Overall as an audience we were left wanting more, not because the set missed anything but because there was a tangible connection between the audience and a rapper who was, not too long ago, paying to watch his favourite rappers perform. Cole didn't need any surprise guest appearances; he filled the arena with a microphone, a confident performance of a proven catalogue and the charisma to carry the show through on his own. Maybe we were secretly hoping to hear 'Let Nas Down' and see Nas come out for the remix, but that's us living in 'Dreamville'. 7 53 Issue 76 / 2015 HIPHOP / RNB J. Cole makes the London O2 feel intimate as his 2015 Forest Hills Drive Tour marks his journey from a 'Dollar And A Dream' to a filled arena J. Cole at the o2 event review

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