J. Cole Perform “Be Free” On ‘Letterman’

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J. Cole has been on the receiving end of incredible reviews since the release of his third studio album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, but the 29-year-old rapper had a more pressing stance to achieve with his appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman last week.

Instead of performing a song from his album, J.Cole took the opportunity to pay tribute to Michael Brown and Eric Garner with a live rendition of “Be Free” for his audience in NYC. The powerful song was released in August with lyrics and a message that have become the cornerstone of protests following grand jury decisions of the two unarmed black men killed by police officers.

Along with the song’s original lines like, “Can you tell me why/ Every time I step outside I see my people die?” — J. Cole rapped a new verse for the occasion.

“No disrespect, in terms of change, I haven’t seen any,” he raps at one point. “Maybe he had good intentions but was stifled but the system and was sad to learn he actually couldn’t bring any/ That’s what I get for thinkin’/ This world is fair, they let a brother steer the ship and never told him that the sh– was sinkin’.”

Wow. J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive is in stores now!

Watch the powerful performance below:

(Photo Credit: YouTube/The Late Show with David Letterman)