It came as no surprise that J. Cole, rap’s great everyman, entered the Ed Sullivan Theater through the crowd last night. The appeal of J. Cole remains that he feels imminently accessible to the average rap fan. Cole does not come across as a power-hungry business executive, a thugged-out street warrior or an aspiring fashionista like many of hip-hop’s most celebrated artists. Instead, Cole feels like your Average Joe turned budding hip-hop superstar. He’s the same rap nerd who would wait outside in the freezing cold to see Jay Z on TRL, as Cole recounted to the audience during his live performance on Tuesday (November 5).
XXL was in the audience to watch Cole perform at the Ed Sullivan Theater as part of the internet concert series “Live On Letterman” last night. The North Carolina MC performed a special 40-minute set for the award-winning concert series that streamed live on VEVO. The concert took place on the famous set of CBS’s late-night staple The Late Show With David Letterman , and Cole rocked the house.
After doors promptly opened at 7:15 p.m., the mostly young and diverse crowd filed into the famous New York theater that seems much smaller in person than it does when Letterman delivers his famous top-ten lists. Despite the tiny size of the venue, you could feel the young crowd abuzz with anticipation to see Cole perform. The Roc Nation rapper promptly hit the stage at 8 p.m. to perform a medley of his greatest hits.
Backed by a live band, Cole was warm and engaging, bantering with the appreciative crowd in between performing his biggest songs. It was easy to see why Cole is becoming one of rap’s hottest young stars as the mostly college-aged crowd rapped along word-for-word with each song from the biggest hits to his mixtape cuts.
After the set concluded to the lingering strains of Cole’s biggest hit, “Power Trip,” he exited through the crowd, again, pausing to shake hands with members of the audience. Overall, the evening was intimate and you could tell the crowd’s adoration was real.
Later in the evening, J. Cole appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman to perform “Crooked Smile” for the broadcast. You can watch a clip of his performance on Letterman in the video above.
UPDATE: You watch the full hour performance from this week via CBS.