J. Cole Comes to Chrysler Hall
Norfolk was full of star power last Wednesday night as rapper J. Cole, along with rappers Wale and Vic Mensa, invaded Chrysler Hall for the “What Dreams May Come” tour.
First to hit the stage was Chicago native, Vic Mensa. Mostly known for his collaboration with fellow Hip-Hop newcomer Chance the Rapper, Mensa made light of the fact many people in the audience had never heard of him and jumped right into his performance with lots of energy and a strong stage presence.
Mensa’s songs, “Orange Soda” and “Holy Holy”, received a lukewarm reaction from spectators but it wasn’t enough to catch the attention of people who were in between bar runs or still struggling to find their seats.
Mensa used his last few seconds of his set to promote his first solo mixtape, “INNANETTAPE”, which dropped on Sept. 30.
10 minutes passed, the house lights faded to black and “M-M-M-M- Maybach Music” blasted through the speakers. Wale, also known as Ralph Folarin, appeared on stage and the crowd went crazy.
Unlike, Mensa, Wale’s stage presence changed the atmosphere in the venue from just another concert to an extremely extravagant party. Performing with a live band and DJ, Wale did a medley of singles from his albums “Ambition” and “The Gifted”. Hits like “Slight Work” and “Clappers” kept the energy of the crowd high but most importantly, kept everyone dancing.
The most memorable moment during Wale’s set is when he jumped off stage during his performance of “Pretty Girls” and made his way through the crowd. Wale stopped to hug lots of pretty girls, saluted a few guys and still managed to land every word of the song before three huge security guards returned him to the stage.
After short renditions of “Lotus Flower Bomb”, “Bad” and rapping popular verses from remixes he’d been featured on, Wale closed his set with one of his most popular songs, “Bait”, and left the stage doing imaginary basketball slam-dunks with Virginia native and up-and-coming rapper Black Cobain.
After about 20 minutes of not seeing anything past the stage curtain, the lights shut off again and the crowd began to scream so loud that Chrysler Hall started to tremble as if an earthquake had just hit it.
The sound of thunder and rain quickly silenced the crowd and projected images of rain covering every inch of the venue had everyone in awe. Suddenly, the raindrops stopped and a big screen comes on with a breaking news report that Cole had just been in a deadly car accident and was rushed to the hospital with life threatening injuries.
The screen shuts off, the band begins playing “Trouble”, the intro on Cole’s latest album, Born Sinner, Cole spits the first words from the song and suddenly appears in front of the screen standing at the top of grandiose white stairs with his arms raised.
Cole had arrived.
Equipped with huge monitors, elaborate light shows and elevated stages for the band and background vocal singers, Cole’s stage set created an experience that put the crowd right in the middle of an intricate storyline. The crowd went from being mere spectators to passengers embarking on a journey through Cole’s dream and each song he performed served as tour guides.
Cole showed us his trust issues with “Land of Snakes”, his shortcoming in relationships with “Runaway” and “She Knows”, his struggle to resist temptation in “Forbidden Fruit” and his struggle to establish his own identity in the music business with “Villuminati”.
“Nobody’s Perfect”, “Can’t Get Enough” and “Work Out” from “Cole World” and array of hits from mixtapes “The Come Up”, “Friday Night Lights” and “Truly Yours 2” also made appearances on the journey.
The lights went dark again and the breaking news report reappeared. It advised the crowd that Cole’s condition was rapidly improving. The crowd let out an enormous scream and Cole brought the crowd out of his dream and into reality with a crowd assisted performance of “Power Trip”.
Cole gave a heartfelt thank you and acknowledgement to all of his fans that traveled from near and afar to spend the evening with him, spent about five minutes shaking hands with fans fortunate enough to be within arms reach of the stage, ran up the staircase and left the stage.
The star power during the show was plentiful but Cole’s experience was beyond electrifying.