As we slowly wind down to the end of the first month of the new year and welcome a new moon in Aquarius (It’s amazeballs), We commemorate one of our generation’s most prolific rappers and social activists’ birthday today. NOT FOR DEBATE. It has been a long journey being a fan of J. Cole, his music, his movement and everything he represents. From his ‘Dollar and a dream‘ pop-up concert series to housing his childhood home rent-free to single mothers in his hometown of North Carolina, J. Cole has chosen to use his celebrity status to bring awareness to many of today’s social issues. So in honor of his 32nd birthday, I came up with a short list of J’s most politically-charged moments. Oh, and don’t let Trump’s presidency distract you from the fact that J. Cole went platinum with no features.
1. J. Cole’s ” Be Free” Performance:
Back in December 2014, while promoting his album 2014 Forest Hill Drive, J. Cole visited ‘Late Show With David Letterman‘ and performed a very emotionally-charged song titled Be Free. Be Free, a song that related to the issues that were happening in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of native Michael Brown. J. Cole even added a new verse to the track for the performance, which is believed to have been influenced by the decision of not prosecuting the officers responsible for the death of Michael.
Forget this chain ’cause this ain’t me,
Though I’m eternally grateful to Jay Z,
So elated we celebrated like Obama waited until his last day in office to tell the nation brothers is getting their reparations, hey…
A man can dream, can’t he?
No disrespect in terms of change, I haven’t seen any,
Maybe he had good intentions but was stifled by the system and was sad to learn he actually couldn’t bring any,
That’s what I get for thinking,
This world is fair, they let a brother steer the ship and never told ’em that the ship was sinking,
But I got other shit to think about…like my bank account,
Forget that watch, you paid too much for it, you oughta be ashamed,
When brothers back home be dreaded when the seasons change,
‘Cause they ain’t got no heat, and they ain’t got no AC,
Wal-Mart distribution find my homie he just had a baby,
You wonder why it’s been so many B&E’s lately,
Why brothers from the hood shootin’ like this is TNT lately?
And since all the ballers leavin’ college early
I turn on the TV and don’t see no brothers with degrees lately.
After the performance, a visibly-affected David Letterman commends J. Cole on his performance and promised to welcome him back to the show, at any time.
2. J. Cole Visits Ferguson, Missouri
Months before his performance on the David Letterman show, J. Cole personally flew down to Ferguson, Missouri. Alongside members from his Dreamville record label, J. Cole spoke with locals, mourners of Mike Brown and protestors of the Black Lives Matter movement. The rapper released the track Be Free days before his trip, pleading for an end to police brutality.
“Rest in Peace to Michael Brown and to every young black man murdered in America, whether by the hands of white or black. I pray that one day the world will be filled with peace and rid of injustice. Only then will we all Be Free.”
Although J. Cole reassured that he wasn’t in town for the press, he did have a short candid interview with Complex magazine to share his thoughts about the Mike Brown shooting and his visit to the infamous town.
3. J. Cole participates in the Black Lives Matter protest after the Eric Garner decision in New York
J. Cole took to NYC to participate and march with hundreds in solidarity after a grand jury’s decision to not indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner. Other celebrities partook in the NYC protest, including Hip-hop legend Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest and Filmmaker Spike Lee.