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J. Cole’s One-Dollar Show: Behind the Scenes in New York

North Carolina MC captions his evening and explains why Jay Z’s ‘Reasonable Doubt’ is remembered as a classic

J Cole, The Highline Ballroom, June 15th, 2014

Alex Pines

Last week, J. Cole brought his second annual Dollar and a Dream tour to New York, playing an almost-free Highline Ballroom gig for fans willing to wait a few hours on the street. Cole tweeted the location in the afternoon and rewarded those who came by playing tracks from his break-out mixtape, 2009's The Warm-Up.

A few days later, after seeing the photos Rolling Stone shot, Cole added captions to the final images: "Me. Probably stressed because we picked a venue that was too small. Wanted all these shows to be super intimate, but 7,000 people in line compared to 800 person capacity = fuck."

J Cole, The Highline Ballroom, June 15th 2014

Alex Pines

(no title)

"My guitar player David is from West Virginia. But since moving to New York, he's really mastered this Brooklyn hipster shit. Love the shorts and short-sleeve button-up flannel combo."

J Cole, The Highline Ballroom, June 15th 2014

Alex Pines

(no title)

"Omen always on his laptop, listening to and tweaking his next project, Elephant Eyes. Here, he's taking a break to listen to whatever bullshit Ib is talkin' bout."

J Cole, The Highline Ballroom, June 15th 2014

Alex Pines

(no title)

"Ib is my business partner and president of Dreamville. He was also my first DJ… by default 'cause we didn't have anybody else. We call him DJ iTunes because that's all he could do was press play on iTunes. Now, he DJ's Bas' set sometimes. My advice to Bas: Get a real DJ! "

J Cole, The Highline Ballroom, June 15th 2014

Alex Pines

(no title)

"Cozz's first time on any stage. Amongst our crew/team/family we were all so anxious to see how he would do. It's one thing to rap in a bedroom or a studio. It's another thing to perform in front of real life people. I was proud to see that the kid is a natural. He'll go far."

J Cole, The Highline Ballroom, June 15th 2014

Alex Pines

(no title)

"The Warm Up. Classic. Grateful to be able to perform it. I remember feeling insecure about doing this material at all the Summer Jams because at the time I didn't have any 'commercial hits.' But you wanna know something? The hits don't mean as much without the classics. And the classics don't mean as much without the hits. Reasonable Doubt was slept on when it dropped. But today, it's as appreciated as it is because Jay Z came back and gave you 'Hard Knock Life,' 'Big Pimpin,' 'P.S.A.,' 'Empire State of Mind,' etc. As his profile grew, his legend grew too, along with the love and appreciation for his original masterpiece. His original classic. If Hov fell off and never recovered after 'Sunshine,' Reasonable Doubt is not in our daily collective consciousness as a rap culture. It would still be a secret treasure like Company Flow or some shit. At the same time, I don't think those hit records that Jay came with later would have been as impactful if he didn't have such a pure classic to stand on and show that he was to truly be respected as the best MC in the game. Same goes for Outkast, Fugees, Nas, Biggie, Pac, list goes on and on."

J Cole, The Highline Ballroom, June 15th 2014

Alex Pines

(no title)

"The next show, fans waiting in line for their turn to rap along. Western Beef is hot! Like, "What the fuck is goin on outside our store?" "J. who?"

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