It’s good to come home when you’re J. Cole.
The rapper returned to his New York City roots with a special homecoming performance at his alma mater, St. John’s University in Queens, on April 9. Billed “The Real is Back,” the sold-out show was presented by Haraya, The Pan-African Students’ Coalition — Cole was incidentally the President of the org back in 2007 — for current students and alumni. “It’s crazy. A full circle moment,” Cole explained to the Village Voice from inside Carnesecca Arena.
He was at ease in his old stomping grounds, on and offstage. Dressed in comfy grey sweatpants, black tube socks and a black jersey, the rap star couldn’t have seemed more down-to-earth, easily passing for a rising senior if he wanted to. He performed several tracks from his latest album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, including “A Tale Of 2 Citiez,” “Fire Squad” and, unsurprisingly, the popular virginity buster “Wet Dreamz.” He ended with a string of his more mainstream fare, including “Can’t Get Enough,” “Power Trip” and “In The Morning.”
Cole is enjoying a career high with the commercial success of 2014 Forest Hills Drive and a string of sold-out shows around the nation (including Madison Square Garden on August 8). Still, the North Carolina native was nostalgic and remembered penning many songs that ultimately made 2009’s The Warm Up mix tape on campus.
I’m Gonna Send it to My Mom