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J. Cole, Drake shut down Dreamville Fest with co-headlining set

Photo by Izzy Nuzzo / @izzynuzzo

Cole and Drake go way… way back. The pair have not only forged a long-lasting friendship over the course of a decade, but evolved into two of rap’s all-time greats in the process.

Helping to define the sound of our generation, Drake and J. Cole’s mutual respect runs deep. From early collaborations like “In The Morning” and “Jodeci Freestyle” to consistently supporting one another beyond the booth, their journey came full circle at Dreamville Fest this past weekend (April 1-2).

Embracing on stage after endearing speeches, The Off-season rapper wore his heart on his sleeve Sunday night (April 2) in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I can speak for all of us when I say we are all wowed, amazed, blown away by your greatness,” Cole said. “It gives me chills to see you do this at the highest level…” The 39-song setlist makes a strong case for “one of the most legendary of all-time,” however, joint records like the aforementioned “In The Morning” and “Jodeci Freestyle” surprisingly didn’t see the light of day.

Cole’s show-stopping set featured tracks like “MIDDLE CHILD,” Love Yourz,” “Wet Dreams,” “VILLEMATIC / Johnny P’s Caddy” and more. Interestingly, the Fayetteville-born emcee implored Kanye West to clear the sample for his track “VILLEMATIC,” where Dreamville boss Ib took to Twitter to reveal that he’s rapped over “10 Kanye beats.” It seems like Cole’s early mixtapes like The Warm Up will be repackaged for DSPs sometime soon.

Drake, billed as a special guest and co-headliner, joined Cole midway through the dual set. Performing a medley of hits and deep cuts alike in “Practice,” “HYFR,” “Rich Flex,” “Know Yourself” and more, the Toronto rapper’s anticipated appearance was echoed by Sound42 Radio’s 100th “FRI YIY” special, which premiered his unreleased collaboration with BNYX titled “Rescue Me.”

This link-up wasn’t without surprise superstar acts. Drake brought out three guests in “It’s All A Blur” tourmate 21 Savage, Lil Wayne and Lil Uzi Vert all just minutes apart. “The Motto” with Wayne was a cant-miss moment from the set, as Uzi’s “Just Wanna Rock” continues to set the culture ablaze. It was all love to cap off the performance, with Drake leading a homage to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” — showing appreciation for J. Cole’s “greatness.”

Aside from Cole and Drake’s legendary performance, Dreamville’s roster shined throughout the two-day hometown camp, as JID, Bas, Cozz, Earthgang, Lute and Ari Lennox all graced the “Sun” and “Rise” stages. A total of 27 artists shut down Dreamville Fest, such as Usher, City Girls, Lil Durk, Summer Walker, Jordan Ward, Sean Paul, Burna Boy and others.

Dreamville Festival wasn’t the first time Cole and Drizzy gave each other their flowers. He praised the 6 God’s talent after the release of albums in Honestly, Nevermind and Certified Lover Boy, even rapping over “Pipe Down” for “Heaven’s EP.” The pair view each other more as friends than competitors, as Drake spoke on how much Cole means to him — as well as making music together — during a live show in 2019.

“When I think of all my earliest memories [in rap], there’s always one guy that was always right there doing the same thing as me — taking care of his people, showing love — and it’s this man right here,” the OVO mogul said. “He hasn’t changed since the first day I met him. I said it in prayer, and I’ll say it in front of 20,000 people: All you keep doing is getting bigger and better. I appreciate you and I can’t wait to make some new music with you.”

With new music looming for both rap titans, the Dreamville boss is potentially prepping his next studio album, It’s A Boy, while “The Boy” Drake is planning to tour his collab LP with 21 Savage, Her Loss, later this summer. While short on joint tracks, Cole and Drake have tons of iconic moments to make up for it. Whether it was performing on the “Dollar And A Dream” tour or raiding the CD shelves to purchase every copy of Born Sinner, new music from this tandem is not only long overdue, but HAS to exist.

Manifesting this Cole and Drake collab until further notice.

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