Hometown Hero

A talk with playwright Aaron Posner about the Eugene flight of Stupid F@#*ing Bird

Aaron Posner
Aaron Posner

Considering the sterling reputation of J. Cole, it’s incredible that his new tour kicks off here at the McDonald Theatre.

Jermaine Lamarr Cole, better known as J. Cole, is a top lyricist and storyteller — the epitome of a Big Deal Rapper, the caliber of hip-hop artist that rarely performs in Eugene. For example, his most recent album, Born Sinner (2013), outsold Yeezus, which was released by Kanye West on the same day. Then, for Cole’s 29th birthday during a January 2014 performance at Madison Square Garden, legendary rapper Jay Z gifted him an original Roc-a-fella diamond necklace.

This year, J. Cole joined elite company, becoming one of just six rappers to ever reach number one on the Billboard charts for each of their first three full-length albums. Cole’s newest effort, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, derives its name from the address of his childhood home in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Cole recently announced that he purchased the property  — which had been foreclosed on when Cole was in college — to provide rent-free, two-year housing for single mothers.

The Forest Hills Drive Tour that launches in Eugene emphasizes small hometowns across the nation. Cole will visit Santa Ana rather than Los Angeles, and Rochester instead of New York City.

“This first run is for all the cities that never get no love. I feel you,” says Cole on his Facebook page. “Forest Hills Drive Tour. See you in a few.”

But it might be a fight to actually see the Roc Nation superstar when he comes to town: His only show on this tour in the Pacific Northwest is at the McDonald, and the $40 tickets sold out in less than 30 minutes. Now, the cheapest general admission tickets available are on StubHub for $219 and Craigslist for $120.

Even the Portland Trail Blazers are getting in on the Cole frenzy. When star point guard Damian Lillard was recently asked on Twitter whether he would attend the J. Cole concert here in Eugene, he responded “Absolutely.”

Lillard, known for his #4BarFriday rap competitions on Instagram, famously told the Comcast SportsNet NW website that he plans to release his own rap album and would like to one day work with his favorite rapper: J. Cole.

J. Cole performs with Bas, Cozz and Omen 8 pm Monday, March 2, at McDonald Theatre; tickets are sold out.