J. Cole Brings Bars Back to the Barclays Center: Concert Review

One of the most endearing attributes of J. Cole’s career has always been his transparency. For over a decade, the Carolina rapper has amassed a legion of followers and a seat in the pantheon of hip-hop because he makes listeners feel like they know him through his music and his common-man lifestyle. This familiarity creates a sense of kinship within his fanbase, and as 19,000 filed into Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Saturday night (Oct. 1) for his sold-out Off-Season tour, it felt like a family reunion. Kicking off in Miami — with the help of special guests Drake and Future — the trek marks J. Cole’s return to live performing since his KOD Tour back in 2018. 21 Savage and burgeoning rapper Morray also join the Dreamville artist along with comedian and social media star Druski.

Raised in the same North Carolina hometown as Cole, Morray exploded on the rap scene this past year with his viral track “Quicksand,” and instantly engaged the crowd with his contagious energy, fun-loving spirit, and impressive vocal chops (worth noting: he Morray didn’t use a backtrack for any of his songs). His set was the perfect prelude for the high-level performing that the night would have in store, with 21 Savage following shortly after and performing fan-favorite songs like “10 Freaky Girls,” “X,” and “Knife Talk,” all while dressed in a metallic silver jumpsuit that matched the shining dagger that was erected at center stage. After 21’s set concluded and Druski delivered a hilarious MC routine, the crowd was primed and ready for the man of the hour to emerge.

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