J. Cole Performs “Be Free” on Letterman, Expected to Have 2014’s Quickest-Selling Rap LP

J. Cole has stealthily become one of 2014’s most important voices in hip-hop. The 29-year-old MC, one of the first to visit Ferguson in the wake of Mike Brown’s murder in August, took the Live on David Letterman stage last night (Dec. 11) to perform his earnest track, “Be Free”—a response to the aforementioned tragedy. Cole updated the raw, sung vocals with a rapped verse that jokes about reparations, addresses B-ballers who go pro before graduating college, and criticizes President Obama’s presidency. “No disrespect, but in terms of change, I haven’t seen any/Maybe he was stifled by the system and was sad to learn he actually couldn’t bring any,” he rhymes.

It’s been a magical week for Cole, who released 2014 Forest Hills Drive on Tuesday, just three weeks after the album’s out-of-nowhere announcement. His third studio LP, released without a conventional radio single, is already projected to sell more than 300,000 first-week units—which would make it rap’s highest first-week sales of the year.

Read it at SOHH.

Jay Z Meets Governor Cuomo to Discuss Changes to NY’s Criminal-Justice System

Celebrities have taken different fronts in the nationwide battle against police brutality. Some—like Nas, Q-Tip, and Common—have rallied in the streets with the people. Meanwhile, Jay Z met with New York governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday (December 10) to address necessary changes in the state’s criminal justice system. The primary agenda is to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for his killing of Eric Garner via an illegal chokehold. According to the New York Post, Cuomo’s spokesperson Melissa DeRosa said the two men “had a productive conversation about doing a top-to-bottom review of the criminal-justice system, and how we can all work together to pass a reform package that ensures equality in the eyes of the law.”

Read it at Billboard.

Kendrick Lamar Partners With Reebok, Drops New Rhymes in “I Am” Video

On wax, Kendrick Lamar may have name-dropped Nike Cortez as his preferred footwear, but the Compton lyricist is switching up his apparel. He’s partnered with Reebok in both a visionary and philanthropic capacity, working with the brand Swizz Beatz helped resurrect to create programs that keep kids off the streets. “Reebok has a history of helping kids in the community realize their potential is limitless,” Lamar said in a press release. “I saw what the brand was doing, and I wanted to be a part of it and make it even stronger. It’s as simple as that. Kids that listen to my music are looking for inspiration. It’s important that I continue that message in anything I represent.”

To announce his Reebok alliance, K Dot dropped a three-minute, Anthony Mandler-directed video titled “I Am,” where he lets loose a verse dedicated to his upbringing and how his L.A. hometown shaped him, plus showcases talented music students.

Read it at The Root.