New York’s SOB’s was packed to capacity last night (March 30, 2010) in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Freshman of the Roc (Nation), J. Cole, at HOT97’s Who’s Next Live showcase. Cole provided selections from his Warm-Up mixtape along with a handful of freestyles, plus versions of “Dead Presidents” and “Get By” to which Talib Kweli jumped onstage with Hi-Tek to perform. Guests in the building included Statik Selektah, Domingo, Asher Roth (who assisted opening act Outasight), Young Chris (who also performed with Cole) and fellow Freshman 10, Pill, among others.
Despite being a newbie to the game, Cole took to the stage like a champ with precise delivery to a crowd who knew every song by heart. He recounted a story of being a student at St. John’s and going to see Kanye West perform at SOB’s, wishing he could be on that stage. “About seven years ago today I came to New York City,” Cole told the audience. He also handed out signed copies of his current cover stories with The Source and XXL to several adoring fans, including two who had to sing for them.
While sending several nods to Jay-Z and the Roc(a-fella) of the past, J. Cole made it clear this was the new dynasty. “I’m on Roc Nation” he stressed to the crowd. “This isn’t 2003.” He also sent a warning shot to any rappers in his lane and any sleeping online. “Get back to Rap you dudes tweeting too much,” he said. While many new rappers have been surrounded by unwarranted hoopla, J. Cole proved he was worthy of all his praise.