J. Cole, whose debut album hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, played a sold-out show at Fillmore Silver Spring on Wednesday. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

Even if you hadn’t spent the past four years consuming J. Cole’s mixtape releases and featured verses, seeing him live you immediately understand his star power. The packed house chanted his lyrics in unison and at a deafening volume. But Cole’s show was winning for more reasons than having a young, adoring crowd fully committed to a pep rally for their favorite ascendant rapper.

The young artist has a pacing and presence that supported his claim of having studied the greats. And backed by the deft work of DJ Dummy as well as Cole’s production partners on keyboards, the music was more dynamic than a bland stream of tracks. From the rowdy bounce of “Higher” from his Friday Night Lights mixtape to a serious moment of rapping “Daddy’s Little Girl” from a stool on the stage, J. Cole strung most of the tunes on his album together with a few back catalog pieces to command unwavering attention for his hour plus set.