J.Cole and special guest Wale rolled through Philly Wednesday night at the Mann Center as part of the “What Dreams May Come” tour. The pairing of Wale and J.Cole seemed a bit odd to us at first because, while both artists have collaborated with some of the same artists (such as Miguel), the two have no songs or collaborations with each other. After seeing both artists perform on their own, we appreciated that they both brought something unique to the table, making for a memorable evening.
The show started off with an opening performance by Chicago based rapper Vic Mensa. Mensa may only be 19 years old, but he certainly held his own on the Mann’s massive stage. Running through the crowd with microphone in hand, he started the night off strong. His performance was a clear indication of the energy level that we could expect from the other artists who would be performing throughout the night.
Not long after Vic Mensa finished up, Wale hit the stage running, starting his performance off with a boom. It took only a matter of minutes for Wale to have the entire venue going nuts.
After his first few songs, Wale took a minute to address the crowd, telling them he was here to party, that he hoped to get girls “wet” so some guys could get lucky. He followed up this statement by swigging Hennessy and taking a puff from a joint.
Wale then performed his hit “Slight Work”, which mixed right into “Pretty Girls”. Slight Work had the audience going bonkers, but when Pretty Girls dropped, and he jumped off the stage and started walking into the crowd, he was immediately swarmed by woman going absolutely bananas.
“Shawty got a big ole butt”, The intro to Wale’s hit track “Clappers”, then played on repeat until Wale thought it was time to actually perform the song. Maybe he was waiting for an appropriate reaction from the crowd before progressing past the intro, but either way, the crowd seemed to eventually catch on and loved the performance.
Wale then decided to “slow it down” and told the crowd he was looking for “the aggressive weed smokers so they could chill after the show”. He then performed another hit song, “Bad”. Wale turned things right back into high gear with “Chillin”.
Wale ended his set just as he began: energentic. The crowd obviously enjoyed his performance, and it also seemed as if some people in the seats only came to the show only to see Wale (as we saw some people filing out of the venue after his set had finished).
There was a brief 15-20 minute intermission as J. Cole’s stage was set up, and fans anxiously waited to see what would appear behind the giant curtain on stage. The lights went out in the venue and the curtain dropped to reveal a giant, impressive set up that took everyone by surprise.
A giant staircase led up to an large TV screen, with a full band on either side of the stairs. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that J.Cole would appear at the top of the stairs, the lights would shine, and that he would parade down to the stage where a microphone was waiting for him. He did exactly that, and opened his performance with the song “Sinner” from his “Born Sinner” album.
Following his opener, Cole performed “Land of the Snakes” and “Blow Up” before taking a moment to address the crowd. Cole told the audience that he knew how cold it was outside (it was?), and that it meant a lot to him that even though it was so cold, everyone came out to have a good time and support him.
Cole said he felt like he and the audience were friends, and as such, he was going to be honest with them… “I’ve been drinking a lot of motha f*cking Hennessy, and when I do that, I just want to go home with soooommmeeethhhinnngg”… He then walked over to a large bottle of Hennessy, took a few swigs, and then went into his performance of “Nobody is Perfect”.
Next, he slowed things down with his hit song “Workout”. After which, he took time to address the crowd again. In stereotypical rapper fashion, Cole told the crowd just HOW rich he was. While usually this would be just plain ignorant, the fact is he had a point.
Cole explained that he writes all his music, so he gets the writers check, he produces all of his own music, so he gets the producers check, and so on, and so forth. The only logical song that could come after this was “Mo Money”. He then went on to perform a few more songs from his most recent album Born Sinner before the night came to a close.
Where as Wale used his own sheer energy to wow the crowd, J. Cole had an elaborate stage setup and support from a full band and vocalists to help him. Both performers started off their performance strong, however, it seemed that attention was lost mid way through J. Cole’s set. Wale’s performance was definitely more uptempo and enjoyable from start to finish.
[Photo credit: Steve Garfinkel Photography]
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