J. Cole Wows Letterman With Moving Performance of Ferguson-Inspired “Be Free”

Give some credit to J. Cole.


The rapper could have used his appearance on last night's Late Show with David Letterman to perform a track of his new album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, but instead seized the opportunity to wow the audience and the host with a powerful and pained rendition of "Be Free," the song Cole released earlier this year as a reaction to the Michael Brown shooting. At a time when much of the country is still reeling from the grand jury verdicts in Ferguson and Staten Island, Cole's feels even more vital than when he first released it.

The highlight of the performance comes courtesy of a new verse J. Cole added where he expresses the hopelessness felt by President Obama's inability to enact real change. "They let a brother steer the ship and never told him that the ship was sinking," Cole raps. The song, which doesn't appear on Cole's album, leaves Letterman at a loss for words—a rarity. "Oh my god," is about all he can muster. Watch it below.