On Friday, September 24, the North Carolina native launched the first night of his long-awaited tour in support of his sixth album, The Off-Season. The inaugural show of the 20-city tour began with opening act Morray, a rising star who, like Cole, hails from Fayetteville. The 2021 XXL Freshman Class rapper hit the stage to perform well-known hits like "Quicksand" mixed in with fresh material like "Bad Situations."
Once he wrapped up, all eyes were on 21 Savage. Only 24 hours before the tour began, fans of the Atlanta-based rapper were uneasy about his appearance. On Thursday, the "Savage Mode" rapper, born She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, turned himself to DeKalb County authorities in Georgia over a warrant that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had issued for his arrest on September 7. The allegations of felony drug and weapons possession stem from a previous ICE arrest over two years ago. But after being released from custody on Friday, 21 assured his fans he'd make it to Miami by showtime.
Despite a few technical difficulties, 21 glided through his set, performing bangers like "My Dawg," "Runnin," "Can't Leave Without It." "X," and, of course, "Bank Account." The Slaughter Gang leader commanded the stage and set the tone for the rest of the night.
As a black curtain blanked the entire stage, a video of Cole prepping for the show began to play. With "Punching the Clock" playing in the background, the footage showed Cole lacing up his shiny red sneakers and putting on his Miami Heat-inspired "Dreamer" jersey before walking out on stage. The curtain dropped, revealing Cole, mic in hand, at the helm of the stage. He kicked off the show with the intro song on The Off-Season, "95 South." Footage of Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz flashed above, helping him close out the track and segue into the next joints, "Amari" and "Applying Pressure."
The Dreamville founder brought The Off-Season's album cover to life by re-creating an oversized version of the infamous basketball hoop engulfed in flames. Instead of fire shooting up from the edges or sides of the stage, flames rose from the hoop itself. He delivered more bangers from the album, like "Pride Is the Devil," during which he tried and failed to rap Lil Baby's verse, and brought his labelmate Bas to deliver other tracks like "100 Mil," "Let My Hand Go," and "The Jackie." He also devoted a significant amount of stage time to performing fan favorites like "Power Trip," "A Tale of 2 Citiez," and "G.O.M.D.," to name a few.
The show's climax hit when Cole finally brought out 21 Savage to rock out to their critically acclaimed collaboration, "A Lot." Soon after, Cole called out Morray to deliver his hit "Quicksand," but midway through his song, the 28-year-old cut it short and started singing the song he really wanted to perform: "My Life." While it was a peak moment during the show, it barely scratched the surface of what Cole still had up his sleeve.
"You did that 'Pipe Down' freestyle the other day," Drake told Cole. "You was sayin' in the freestyle that they gave you the bronze or whatever, me and Kendrick [Lamar]...I just want you to understand something. You are genuinely, without a doubt, one of the greatest rappers to ever touch a mic."
New Times has seen Cole perform at Rolling Loud in Miami Gardens and nearly every tour stop he's made in our city over the years. But the last quarter of the first night of the Off-Season Tour elevated this performance to the best tour launch of his career. It also occasioned a pivotal moment that will live on in rap history for years to come.
- "95 South"
- "Apply Pressure"
- "100 Mil"
- "A Tale of 2 Citiez"
- "Wet Dreamz"
- "Back to the Topic"
- "Work Out"
- "Can't Get Enough"
- "Power Trip"
- "Under The Sun"
- "The Climb Back"
- "Pride Is the Devil"
- "A Lot" (with 21 Savage)
- "My Life"
- "Laugh Now Cry Later" (with Drake)
- "Knife Talk" (with Drake)
- "Way 2 Sexy" (with Drake and Future)
- "No Role Modelz"
- "The London"
- "Middle Child"