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Under the age of 40, there are only nine citizens in the U.S. who haven't self-recorded a mixtape in the hopes of making it in the glamorous world of hip-hop.
Good luck with that, in other words.
On the other hand, there's rapper J. Cole. In 2007, a dude called Jay-Z heard and loved Cole's mixtape, "The Come Up," and called him out of the blue - assuredly, it was one of those "No, who is this really?" moments. But it WAS Jay-Z, and he eventually signed Cole to his Roc Nation label and, yes, stardom has ensued.
This happened despite the fact that one artist spells out "Jay" and the other uses it as an abbreviation, J. They genially chalk it up to creative differences - and continue to churn out the hits.
Cole performs Saturday in the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods. "Born Sinner," his latest album, topped the Billboard charts on release and boasts four hit singles, "Power Trip," "Crooked Smile." "Forbidden Fruit" and "She Knows." Lyrically, Cole is a fluid trickster with a clever sense of narrative. He likes skittish beats and spooky orchestral samples, and the whole package is relatively fresh in the field.
- RICK KOSTER
J. Cole, 8 p.m. Saturday, MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods; $35 and $55; 1-800-200-2882, foxwoods.com.