LOWELL, Mass. — Rapper J. Cole graduated from college with honors, was born in Germany, grew up in North Carolina and worked as a bill collector. Now he’s nominated for Best New Artist Grammy. Seeing life at all levels fuels his music and on March 30, you can hear it performed live when J. Cole comes to the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.
In just a few years, J. Cole has emerged as a talent to be reckoned with in the rap world. In addition to his 2011 Grammy nomination, Vibe ranked him No. 5 on its list of 30 Greatest Rappers Alive Under 30 and he was nominated for Best New Artist at the 2011 BET Awards. XXL Magazine included him in the 2010 Top 10 Freshmen and Beyond Race Magazine named him among its 50 Great Breakthrough Artists. In 2010, he was awarded the Male Artist of the Year honor at the Underground Music Awards.
Tickets for J. Cole’s show at the Tsongas Center go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13 and are $22 in advance (six-ticket limit) for the general public and $17 (four-ticket limit) for UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College students with valid ID. Discount student tickets are available only at the Tsongas Center box office.
All others may purchase tickets at the box office, www.tsongascenter.com
or 866-722-8780. If tickets remain on the day of the show, they will be $27 for the public and $22 for UMass Lowell and MCC students with ID.
The Tsongas Center is located at 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Lowell, just minutes from Route 3 and Interstate 495. The Friday, March 30 event starts at 8 p.m.; doors open for the general admission show at 6:30 p.m. for student ticket-holders and 7 p.m. for the public.
J. Cole was born in Frankfurt, Germany to parents who were serving in the U.S. Army and at a young age, he moved to Fayetteville, N.C. By age 15, he was rapping, telling stories through his music and filling notebooks with his rhymes. Before J. Cole was out of high school, he was recording beats and posting them online, and even once waited outside Jay-Z’s office for hours in an unsuccessful attempt to give him a copy of his work.
Offered a scholarship to St. John’s University, J. Cole got the opportunity to move to New York City, where he believed he would have a better chance to get noticed as a rapper, and went on to earn a degree in communication and business with honors. Later, while working as a bill collector, J. Cole finally had the day he’d been dreaming of: Jay-Z came looking for him to sign him to a recording contract. In the years that have followed, J. Cole has released his own music, including the well-received 2009 mixtape, “The Warm Up,” and recorded with artists including Jay-Z, Drake, Mos Def, Wale and B.o.B. He’s toured with Drake, Rihanna, Wiz Khalifa and others. Hear more about J. Cole’s life and music from the artist himself in an NPR interview
The J. Cole show is just one example of how UMass Lowell is becoming a top venue in the region for rap and hip-hop acts. Since the Tsongas Center was acquired by the university in 2009, Drake, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa have all performed at the venue, which was named one of the top 20 in the world this year by Venues Today Magazine. Global Spectrum manages the center on behalf of UMass Lowell.
This event is presented by UMass Lowell’s student-run Campus Activities and Programming Association (CAPA), which annually books a big name in music to play at the Tsongas Center. CAPA chose to pursue J. Cole based the recommendation of student members who had been following his career for the last year and felt confident he was about to break big as an artist. After J. Cole successfully opened for LMFAO on tour last year, CAPA decided he was the artist to book for this year’s spring Tsongas show,” said Tasha Henderson, associate director of UMass Lowell’s Office of Student Activities and Leadership.
UMass Lowell is a comprehensive, national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 15,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering, education, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, liberal arts, management, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.