Concert Review: J Cole the Off-Season Tour at FTX Arena Miami September 24, 2021

During the pandemic, only a few artists have the power to draw fans into the vast sea of ​​humanity of a sand stage. For rap fans, J. Cole is that artist, and he was the curator of an experience worth the trip to FTX Arena in downtown Miami.

On Friday, September 24, the North Carolina native released the first night of his long-awaited tour in support of his sixth album, Low season. The inaugural show of the 20-city tour began with the opening act Morray, a rising star who, like Cole, hails from Fayetteville. 2021 XXL Rapper Freshman Class took to the stage to perform hits known as “Quicksand” mixed with fresh material like “Bad Situations.”

Once it was over, all eyes were on 21 Savage. Just 24 hours before the tour began, fans of the Atlanta-based rapper were uneasy about his appearance. On Thursday, the “Savage Mode” rapper, born She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, Surrendered to DeKalb County Authorities in Georgia on an arrest warrant issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on September 7. The drug and weapon possession allegations stem from a previous arrest by ICE more than two years ago. But after being released from custody on Friday, 21 assured his fans that he would be arriving in Miami at show time.

Click to enlarge

Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg

The 28-year-old rhymer took the stage in camo pants and a graphic white T-shirt to Metro Boomin’s “Don’t Come Out the House.” Not all heroes wear a cape. The LED screen took numerous forms on stage, from church windows to concrete pillars with sculptures and fire burning behind them. The only accessory that remained unchanged: an oversized sword that glowed in the middle of the stage. The hilt of the sword was gold and covered in diamonds, the blade engraved with the names of the 21 crew that passed away: “RIP Johnny. RIP Tayman. RIP Larry. 4L Slaughter Gang.”

Despite some technical difficulties, 21 slipped through their set, performing bangers like “My Dawg”, “Runnin”, “Can’t Leave Without It”. “X” and, of course, “Bank account”. The Slaughter Gang leader commanded the stage and set the tone for the rest of the night.

While a black curtain covered the whole stage, a video of Cole getting ready for the show began to play. With “Punching the Clock” playing in the background, images showed Cole lacing up his shiny red sneakers and donning his Miami Heat-inspired “Dreamer” jersey before going on stage. The curtain fell, revealing Cole, microphone in hand, at the helm of the stage. The show began with the intro song on Low season, “95 South”. Images of Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz appeared above, helping him close the track and move on to the next joints, “Amari” and “Applying Pressure.”

Click to enlarge The crowd at FTX Arena.  See more photos of J. Cole at FTX Arena here.  - PHOTO OF MICHELE EVE SANDBERG

Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg

“We’re going to do the whole damn album, by the way,” Cole said before continuing. “I don’t give a damn. I don’t care what type, you know what I mean? Hit it or not, it’s getting done. The bars will be heard.”

The founder of Dreamville brought Low season The album cover comes to life by recreating an oversized version of the infamous basketball hoop engulfed in flames. Instead of shooting fire from the edges or sides of the stage, flames rose from the rim. He delivered more hits from the album, such as “Pride Is the Devil”, during which he tried to rap the Lil Baby verse without success, and brought in his labelmate Bas to deliver other tracks such as “100 Mil”, “Let My Hand Go “, and” The Jackie “. He also spent a significant amount of time on stage performing fan favorites like “Power Trip,” “A Tale of 2 Citiez,” and “GOMD,” to name a few.

The climax of the show came when Cole finally brought out 21 Savage to rock out with his critically acclaimed collaboration, “A Lot.” Shortly after, Cole called Morray to perform his hit “Quicksand,” but in the middle of her song, the 28-year-old cut her off and began singing the song he really wanted to perform: “My Life.” While it was a highlight during the show, it barely scratched the surface of what Cole still had up his sleeve.

Click to enlarge J. Cole brought The Off-Season album cover to life on stage.  See more photos of J. Cole at FTX Arena here.  - PHOTO OF MICHELE EVE SANDBERG

Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg

As he walked off the stage, signaling the possible end of the show, fans chanted his name and demanded his return. Not only did he go out again, but he also brought some friends. Cole shocked the entire arena by taking Drake out. the Certified lover he blessed the crowd by performing “Knife Talk” with 21 Savage and even brought in another surprise guest, Future, to sing his latest hit, “Way 2 Sexy.” At the end of his appearance, Drake took the time to praise Cole’s “Heaven’s EP,” in which he freestyle over Drizzy’s “Pipe Down.” club.

“You did that freestyle ‘Pipe Down’ the other day,” Drake told Cole. “You said in freestyle you got bronze or whatever, Kendrick and I [Lamar]… I just want you to understand something. You are genuinely, without a doubt, one of the best rappers to ever touch a microphone. ”

New Times has seen Cole perform at Rolling Loud in Miami Gardens and almost everyone stop of the tour you did in our city Through the years. But the final quarter of the first night of the off-season Tour elevated this performance to the best touring pitch of his career. It also created a pivotal moment that will live on in rap history for years to come.

Songs list:
– “95 South”
– “Amari”
– “Apply pressure”
– “100 thousand”
– “A Tale of 2 Citiez”
– “Wet Dreamz”
– “GOMD”
– “Back to topic”
– “Exercise”
– “I can not get enough”
– “Power trip”
– “Under the sun”
– “Climbing back”
– “Pride is the devil”
– “Much” (with 21 Savage)
– “My life”
– “Laugh Now Cry Later” (with Drake)
– “Knife Talk” (with Drake)
– “Way 2 Sexy” (with Drake and Future)
– “No role model”
– “The London”
– “Son of the middle”


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