J. Cole - Forest Hills Drive Live

J. Cole’s been having a pretty damn good last few months.

North Carolina’s very own started 2016 off by collaborating with HBO on a documentary of his Forest Hills Drive Tour stop in his hometown, Forest Hills Drive: Homecoming. This, after launching another installment of Revenge of the Dreamers with his Dreamville label back in December and after trading songs with Kendrick Lamar on Black Friday.

While we wait to see what’s coming next month from the rapper – Cole all but implied something in the chamber for February on his “Alright” freestyle – there’s a more important matter at hand: today marks Jermaine Lamarr Cole’s 31st birthday. To celebrate the occasion, Cole opted to release the “Live from Fayetteville” version of his 2014 Forest Hills Drive, recorded while the rapper was in concert. Jermaine has allowed for a free stream of the live LP by way of Spotify.

Nothing new appears on Live from Fayetteville, but the charm in the live version of the album is how it manages to recreate that concert experience for listeners. The audience’s applause and cheers in between songs and instrumental breaks, as well as Cole’s speaking to the crowd mid-track, are included, so it’s like being there (or like going back, if you were present at any of the Forest Hills Drive Tour stops). The live instrumentation also, however, breathes new life into some of FHD’s tracks. The sinister beat loop of “A Tale of 2 Citiez,” for example, sounds like it’s being played by a symphony live; and “G.O.M.D.” sounds as stadium status than ever, especially with live drums delivering the bass.

The “Live from Fayetteville, N.C.” version of J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive LP is available on iTunes now.

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