J.Cole returns for second homecoming

J.Cole returns for second homecoming

Taylor Leonard-Coleman, Staff Writer

St. John’s University welcomed back its spring concert this past Thursday, after a one-year hiatus, with a performance by special guest, hip-hop artist and former Johnnie, J. Cole.

Haraya, the Pan-African Students Coalition, along with Student Government, Incorporated (SGI) labeled the extraordinary event, meant only for St. John’s students and alumni, as “J.Cole’s Homecoming Concert: The Real Is Back.”

Tickets went on sale Monday, March 30 at 9 a.m. Students were lined up in the cold from the top of the D’Angelo Center all the way around to the entrance to DaSilva Memorial Field.

St. John’s students expressed excitement about the upcoming concert by using the hashtags that both the St. John’s and Haraya’s Twitter handles produced: #WelcomeBackJCole, #StormCardsOnly, #HarayaMusicFest15, #SJU and #TheRealIsBack.

Five years ago, at the 2010 Spring Fling concert, Jermaine Cole first returned to his alma mater as the buzz-worthy North Carolina MC, whom Jay Z had signed, with multiple hits up his sleeve.

Fast-forward to the present, and the rapper’s image has changed from being a dream-hungry college student to a confident lyricist in his own right, and the boss of his own label, “Dreamville,” which he founded alongside fellow SJU alum Ibrahim Hamad.

The “Crooked Smile” rapper made his own rules with the release of his third and newest album, “2014 Forest Hills Drive.” Without singles or promotion, other than the release date, his decisions and dedication all paid off in the end and the album went platinum.

On Thursday, April 9, lines wrapped around the venue, from the outside of Carnesecca Arena, as students and alumni waited for their chance to see the Roc Nation rapper perform. Seats started to fill up once the arena’s doors opened at 7p.m.

The “Dreamville” team, which consisted of artists, Bas, Cozz and Omen, took the stage as his opening acts. Each of them gave their performances their all and showed the public that they are a force to be reckoned with, which J. Cole had been preparing everyone for.

All you could see was the light from attendees’ smart phones capturing Cole’s return. As the man of the night hit the stage to a thunderous applause in a black tee and gray harem sweatpants.

His playful nature came through in full force as he commented on the university’s upgrades since he graduated. Cole even shared special moments with the crowd after reminiscing about his time as an undergraduate at St. John’s.

From start to finish, J. Cole had the crowd on their feet singing and rapping along to his older and newest hits. The stage paved the way for the perfect setting for tracks like “Wet Dreamz,” “Tale of 2 Citiez,” “Fire Squad” and “G.O.M.D.,” while more mainstream records like “Work Out,” “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Crooked Smile” and, the finale, “Power Trip,” had Carnesecca Arena filled with the voices of students and alumni.

Once Cole walked off the stage after performing for an hour, he received his physical diploma, which was presented to him by the former provost and his former “Discover New York” professor, Dr. Julia Upton.

Jermaine was originally snubbed from receiving his diploma when he initally graduated from St. John’s in 2007. He failed to return a library book and to pay the accompanying fines, which prevented the aspiring hip hop star from obtaining the physical piece of paper nearly eight years ago.

“If you have an outstanding fee that translates to money, there’s a price associated with it,” the celebrity alum told The Village Voice. “I never paid it. That’s why I don’t have my degree.”

After receiving his diploma, he joked and said that SJU let him slide and knew exactly who he was going to send it to: his mom.

Overall, the second homecoming show was a success thanks to the summa cum laude graduate.   

J. Cole will be back in New York City for his Forest Hills Drive Tour at Madison Square Garden in August 2015.