2010 XXL Freshman J. Cole blessed a sold-out college crowd at The University of Missouri last Saturday (March 12) with an electric performance that suggested no signs of a 2011 sophomore year slump.

The Fayetteville, NC-rhymer jumped between crowd-pleasers from his Internet-favorite mixtapes (The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights) and scene-stealing guest verses (Kanye West’s “Looking for Trouble,” Wale’s “Beautiful Bliss”) as the packed house recited his intricate bars back at him without missing a beat.

Students from St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago flooded the Columbia, Missouri campus for a chance to see Roc Nation’s top pick and to show Cole some Midwestern hospitality. He graciously thanked the crowd throughout his performance and stopped to show love to each fan that squeezed into the school’s auditorium. “I see y’all up there,” he said between songs, acknowledging the raucous upper deck.

Cole has spent the past year polishing his stage skills by touring the country and Europe as the world awaits the release of his highly anticipated debut LP, Cole World. But the former college boy (he graduated from St. John’s University in 2007) seemed particularly comfortable in front of the student-filled crowd, feeding off of the raw energy permeating throughout the intimate venue.

Next up for Cole is Thursday’s (March 17) SXSW concert ticket with fellow XXL Freshman alum B.o.B. and Big Sean, along with the legendary DJ Premier, for the BET Showcase at SXSW.—Calvin Stovall

View photos of the event below, courtesy of Curtis Taylor, Jr.