J. Cole, Dot Rotten, Norwich UEA – 26/11/2011


For an artist who was supporting arguably 2011’s biggest arrival on the hip hop scene, Dot Rotten didn’t seem to take the opportunity to wow the crowd. The London-based grime emcee instead opted to take to the stage wearing a backpack (as if he wouldn’t be staying long; which he didn’t) and give an intriguing prologue to his performance with “don’t look at me, I look like crap, I’ve got a cold.”

What followed was an unenthusiastic rendition of five or six tracks to which Dot rapped along to, when he felt like it. His DJ played the full track as opposed to a backing track allowing for the rapper to take a break periodically, disappointing considering Dot Rotten’s impressive output to-date.

After a deserved icy reception to Dot Rotten, the crowd were in high spirits for the headliner as he took to the stage and showed how things are done, radiating his trademark confident style. Energy and stage presence are both qualities that come naturally to North Carolina’s biggest musical star as J. Cole bounded on stage to kick things off with the title track from the chart-topping debut released earlier this year, Cole World.

Cole has risen to international fame quickly, due in part to his polished style and assured song-writing style, but also due to the name behind the RocNation label, Jay-Z. Appearances on tracks with Mr Carter himself, Drake, Kanye West, Rihanna and Beyonce have helped catapult the 26 year old to stardom. Flying solo on his Cole World: World Tour however Cole still delivers a show worthy of his renowned collaborators.

The set list was predominantly material from Cole’s debut album with a few of the better known singles from his impressive back catalogue of mixtapes and EPs thrown in. Higher, In The Morning and Blow-Up from the 2010 Friday Night Lights mixtape went down well along with the biggest singles from Cole World. Can’t Get Enough, Work Out, Mr. Nice Watch and even Cole’s woeful effort on Beyonce’s ‘Party’ went down a storm!

The medley style of the show kept things moving swiftly and allowed for Cole to deliver close to 20 tracks or more in his short 80 minute slot. Performing several 1-verse appearances from other artists’ albums allowed him to shift from track to track seamlessly.

One of the strengths of J. Cole’s music is that it works fantastically well when performed acoustically, stripped back to a simple beat and arrangement of notes on the piano. Cole proved he’s a deft touch on the piano too, taking the opportunity to perform the intro’ of In The Morning on the keys himself.

The only criticisms of the show would have to be the relatively short headline time on-stage, surprising given that J. Cole has almost 100 tracks recorded already. Although in hindsight it was most certainly quality over quantity.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.