J. Cole lit up the stage during his Off-Season Tour stop at Inglewood, Calif.’s Forum arena on Thursday night (Oct. 21). During his set, the North Carolina native paid homage to his Fayetteville hometown, welcomed surprise guests and showed off his impressive music catalog by performing tracks spanning from his May album The Off-Season — which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — back to his 2010 mixtape Friday Night Lights.
The hitmaker emphasized the importance of staying true to one’s craft and performed some of his classics, including “Nobody’s Perfect,” “Work Out,” “Can’t Get Enough” and “Power Trip.” Here’s a recap of some of the most exciting moments during Thursday night’s show.
J. Cole Reveals Surprise Guests Stars Ari Lennox & Bas
The audience was ecstatic when J. Cole finally hit the stage around 10 p.m. local time. The Grammy-winner made an NBA-starting-lineup-style grand entrance, with cameras following him from the locker room backstage as he made his way through the arena sporting a Los Angeles Lakers-inspired “Dreamer” jersey.
On the stage, complete with flashing lights and a basketball hoop that literally spat fire, J. Cole opened his set with his track “95 . S o u t h,” which he followed with “A m a r i” and “Applying . Pressure.”
Between songs, the rapper opened up about his experience as an artist and the importance of working through the stage fright that comes with performing his personal-favorite songs that weren’t received as hits. “I had a vision for this tour,” he told the audience. “I wanted to be able to come out in these big a– f—ing arenas … and step on these big a– stages and be able to deliver these real mother f—ing bars to y’all, you know what I mean? Give the bars to the people, you feel me?”
“We got the hits, we grateful for that,” he said as the crowd cheered. ” … If there’s one thing I love about doing these shows in LA, it’s a lot of people that have been f—ing with me since day one in LA. I remember, I feel like Los Angeles really appreciates these motherf—ing bars.”
As the night progressed, J. Cole welcomed surprise star Ari Lennox onstage to perform their collaborative hit “Shea Butter Baby.” Lennox then performed her solo track “BMO,” also from her debut studio album Shea Butter Baby. Bas hit the stage as well, to perform “Down Bad.” Lennox wore a black gown while Bas wore a jersey, keeping with the night’s basketball theme.
J. Cole Reunites With 21 Savage & Morray
In what initially appeared to be the show’s grand finale, J. Cole reunited with fellow performers 21 Savage, Bas and Morray to perform the latter’s collaborative track “My Life.” Morray was the show opener for Thursday night’s concert. During his opening act, he performed his smash hit song “Quicksand.”
“I ain’t gonna lie, this has been the best night on tour,” J. Cole said.
After the trio left the stage and the lights went out, 21 Savage surprised fans by returning to perform his song “No Role Modelz.” He wrapped up his Inglewood performance with his track “Middle Child.”
21 Savage Celebrates 29th Birthday Onstage
Prior to J. Cole’s set, and after performing some of his own fan favorites, including “Bank Account,” “Ball W/O You” and “Rockstar,” 21 Savage announced that he was celebrating his birthday. The Grammy-winner officially turned 29 on Friday (Oct. 22). Led by producer Metro Boomin, who was also onstage with 21 Savage, the audience was thrilled to ring in the big day for the artist and sang “Happy Birthday.”
Comedian Druski Takes Center Stage
Moments after 21 Savage’s performance, comic Druski hit the stage and made the audience laugh hysterically. At one point, Druski danced as the DJ played a series of romantic throwback tunes, including Mario’s “Let Me Love You” and T-Pain’s “I’m Sprung.” But the icing on the cake was when he joked that he was the fifth member of R&B group Pretty Ricky and performed a cartwheel as he lip-synced the group’s top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit song “Grind With Me.”