J. Cole Claims He’s the Mt. Rushmore of His Era on ‘The Off-Season Tour’


J. Cole may be a humble guy when it comes to fame, but he knows one thing that is for sure: he’s the GOAT.

Last night, the rapper and noted hooper, is currently back outside for ‘The Off-Season Tour’ with 21 Savage , Morray , and comedian Druski, making his Oct. 11th stop in Dallas at the American Airlines Center, which is home to the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars. The concept of ‘The Off-Season Tour’ is bringing back the bars to a city near you, visualizing the idea of performing his more lyrical songs over his hits during the making of his sixth studio album The Off-Season.

“I wanted to be able to come to this level of place and give y’all the fucking bars, the real ill bars,” Cole said, just moments after basking in the chants of his name from the crowd made of mostly young Dallasites. “’Cause I’ve been coming to Dallas for a really long time and I know people really appreciate the bars, the art of putting these fucking words together. I gotta step on this stage in front of thousands of people and still be able to be true to who I am and what I love.”

The autobiographical rapper has always operated from a place of authenticity, believing you should live your best life doing what you love and what you are passionate about. For a short period, Cole finally made his hoop dreams a reality by joining the Rwanda Patriots BBC team and playing in the Basketball Africa League, showing career highlights and his stats in an SportsCenter spoof intro video before coming on stage. “Averages platinum album every two years. Bicycle enthusiast. Wears Crocs out of sport mode.” All facts.

In a video, Cole is in the locker room, rocking some grey sweatpants, a white tee, a royal blue No. 15 jersey that reads “Dreamer” in the front and “Cloud” in the back. He jogs his way to stage in sneakers. Unfortunately for this stop, Cole left the Crocs at home. Maybe he knew stepping into the house of Luka Dončić and the Mavs needed proper footwear.

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A few songs into his energetic set, Cole had another fact that he wanted to point out. It was his own version of a Mount Rushmore in rap. In his graphic, displayed during his performance of “100 Mil,’” Cole claimed he was the gold standard for his era. That’s early 2010s Cole from Cole World: The Sideline Story, mid-2010s Cole from 2014 Forest Hills Drive and 4 Your Eyez Only, and the 2020s Cole from The Off-Season. It only emphasizes the line from the song, “I’m on that Mount Rushmore, you n****s can’t front no more, bitch/I’ma reign until FEMA show up.”

As much of a superstar he is, Cole believes he is running third behind Drake and Kendrick Lamar . And thanks to Drizzy, he quickly debunked that by calling him one of the greatest rappers to touch a mic . These Dallas fans also agree: Cole deserves his Mount Rushmore spot because of his dedication, his discipline, and his prowess.

At 36 years old, Cole has a sizable catalogue, spanning mixtapes and albums. He rarely stumbled or forgot his words (except for “Pride is the Devil,” which he grumbled to himself about messing up). He didn’t use a backing track, which should be expected for an artist at his level. He was focused as our master of ceremonies, keeping the crowd’s spirits high by making sure his fans (day ones, first timers) all had a song to rap along to.

When he spoke to the crowd, you knew it came from the heart. Talking about choosing to perform a deep cut over a classic, explaining rappers tend to chase a high when their words get rapped back to them, he said, “Don’t run from the feeling of really doing some shit you love, no matter if three or four fucking people in the crowd know that shit. Always get on the stage and do some shit that you want to do and that you love to do.” It was a perfect lead-in to the Friday Night Lights song “Back to the Topic (Freestyle)” that a lot of people knew the words to despite his hesitation.

It was fun to feel nostalgic with Cole as he performed more hits like “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Work Out,” “Power Trip,” and “Planez.” But there’s something to be said about how good these Off-Season songs sounded in an arena setting. Many of us circled our calendars when Cole announced his fall tour, hoping that the coronavirus pandemic didn’t derail his momentum after the album’s huge streaming success. Performing these songs for the first time to this Dallas crowd translated well live. “95 South” hits hard, especially when Lil Jon’s “Put Yo Hood Up” part comes on. “Applying Pressure” is a lyrical exercise. “Amari” is a coming of age story after surviving trial and tribulations. For Cole’s more emotional records, sometimes it’s better to just listen to him and take in his words.

A particularly hyped moment during the show was when Cole brought out Queens rapper and Dreamville signee Bas to perform, “The Jackie.” In a playful competition, they pitted opposing sides against each other to see who could scream, “You see the drop-top, bitch, stop playin’ with me” the loudest. For someone who has recently shifted his approach and started doing more guest features, it’s clearly working. “The Jackie” had one of the loudest crowd interactions of the night. More J. Cole features please.

Towards the end of the evening, 21 Savage and Morray joined Cole on stage again to perform “A Lot” and “My Life.” Cole, acting like a big brother to them, called 21 Savage “a young legend” and praised Morray for being from the same city and being one of the rare people to make it out of Fayetteville. Cole instantly became a fan after hearing “Quicksand,” instructing the Pastor of the Street to run back “Quicksand” again. 21 Savage and Morray each had solid sets of their own earlier in the evening, catering to the hometown crowd with an appearance by Yella Beezy to perform “That’s On Me” during 21’s set and Morray performing “In My Blood” as a tribute to the late MO3.

Cole’s GOAT status was truly felt during his encore. Just when you thought he was finished, “No Role Modelz” and “Middle Child,” two songs where he let the crowd do most of the rapping, was an adrenaline rush. Sweaty and visibly tired, Cole was smiling and continuously grateful for all the love he received this evening. He left with “Hunger on Hillside” as our exit music, walking away as the basketball hoop on stage was on fire. It’s lyrics and meaning are representative of J. Cole currently: “I don’t speak the language of cowards/I walk through the flame like I’m Teflon.”

‘The Off-Season Tour’ comes at a time when major artists are just getting back into touring after much of live music was shut down in 2020. Cole’s latest tour further stamps his legacy as a rapper who genuinely cares about the people affected by his music, wanting to connect with many of them as soon as he could. He says, “…address me as the GOAT like they call Chief Keef Sosa” not as a slick boast, but as a proclamation: the off-season is over. The bars are back in season.

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