J.Cole at House Of Blues, 6/24/13

J.Cole House Of Blues June 24

A dollar.

At 11:30 AM Monday, someone took a photo of the marquee at House Of Blues, focused squarely on five letters with a singular space in between them. J.Cole. The North Carolina golden child had his fans and more going on a literal hunt for the whereabouts of his 'Dollar And A Dream' Tour location. The uniqueness of this? To guerrilla market and give fans a show - a literal ONE DOLLAR SHOW.

Some stood outside Warehouse Live, insiders pegged House Of Blues.

Insiders won.

Around noon when the official announcement was made fans immediately lined up outside of House of Blues, braving the pending heat and more to get a wristband and the chance to spend one lone dollar to see Cole. Maybe they had heard "Power Trip", his gutsy single with Miguel all over the radio. Or possibly heard from a friend about his latest album Born Sinner challenging Kanye West's Yeezus. Whatever the case may be, J.Cole drew out any and everyone who had heard the rapper to House of Blues last night.

"I don't wanna burst no bubbles, but this is not your night if you wanna hear my radio shit," he revealed on stage, clad in black from head to toe. "If you feel that way then I'm sorry, you can hit the exit. This is for the real J.Cole fans."

There's such a thing as a "stan-only" show, the type of rap crowd that knows tracks from original mixtapes and freestyles far more than radio cuts. The type of fan that immediately could share stories about how an artist got them through high school and college with one artist leading the way. Cole had that, especially to the women in my section.

What was special about Cole's show last night was that it boiled down to requests. Fans battling with one another to hear their favorite tracks, all of them ringing out like personal anthems to all involved. There was "Can I Live" & "Grown Simba" from The Warm Up, "Before I'm Gone", "Premeditated Murder", "You Got It" & "Back To The Topic" from Friday Night Lights, the latter rattling off like a frantic acapella with fans trying their best to keep up with one another.

Even somewhat newer cuts like "Kenny Lofton" & "Chris Tucker" from Truly Yours 2 felt like sermons. Cole swayed left to right, caught off guard at times by the love from fans and at others just sitting in the middle of the stage, deliberately putting himself in the shoes of those who waited nine, ten hours just to see him. He was funny, if not curt, with a skit he made up on the spot about a chick who thought he played basketball and emphasized "bitch" like the word was made to end a sentence. "I don't even LIKE basketball," he wrung out with sarcastic glee. "I like nerd shit, I like puzzles, I like soccer..."

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell