“See, we do it for that boy that graduated, that looked you in your eyes real tough and said ’preciate it and that he wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for your CD number nine” —André 3000, “What A Job”
The road to superstardom is paved with applause. From the first mixtape to the penultimate album, someone is clapping every step of the way. A few fans will turn into many, and the many will grow into millions. Will the superstar remember every supporter who applauded since day one?
“Allow me to use this feature to shout out one of the first fans that a nigga ever had named Felicia,” J. Cole raps on Big K.R.I.T.’s “Prove It,” a standout cut from K.R.I.T.’s latest album, K.R.I.T. IZ HERE. Felicia is the supporter whose applause Cole did not soon forget.
Over the phone from her Newnan, Georgia home, Felicia Amon, 29, recounts the shock of hearing Cole’s surprise mention: “I stopped the song. I couldn’t believe it.”
In 2009, Felicia, who was born in Germany but raised in Minnesota, drove from her home in Atlanta, Georgia with a classmate to attend JAY-Z’s Blueprint 3 Tour in Kentucky. Cole, a brand new artist at the time, came out during each tour date and performed his feature verse on “A Star Is Born.”
Felicia had no idea that ten years later, J. Cole, the star who was born on that tour, would live up to Hov’s prophecy. She also had no idea that, at the height of his superstardom, Cole would thank her in a song for all the world to hear.
The day before Big K.R.I.T. released his latest LP, one of Felicia's friends who attended the album’s listening party messaged her and asked, “Did you know that J. Cole mentioned you on K.R.I.T.’s new album?” Felicia didn’t. The friend refused to give any further details; she had to listen for herself.
“I had no idea what he could’ve said, and it’s been over two years since I last saw him,” Felicia says. “I don’t think he realizes how much of my life he got me through.”
Although Cole doesn’t specify who he’s referring to when he says, “Today I saw you post some terrible news as I scroll, so this one is for you, want you to pull through,” the lyrics can be tied to Felica’s unfortunate absence.
“It was just one thing after the next,” she says with a heavy sigh.
The death of her late brother, severe seizures after being diagnosed with epilepsy, and then skin cancer—life was hitting Felicia hard.
“I couldn’t travel as much as I wanted to, and I didn’t make it to any of the KOD shows. I didn’t make it to Dreamville Fest or Dreamville Weekend,” she laments.
The hardships Felicia has endured and continues to brave is why the delivery of Cole’s unexpected verse is even more special:
“When he said, ‘I better see you on the road,’ oh my god. I just cried. Cried. I didn’t know he knew I was sick. I think it was Ibrahim [Hamad] who told him. When I was first diagnosed with the first phase of the skin cancer, I posted a picture of my skin and Ibrahim was like, ‘You’re going to get through this, keep your head up.’ I was so thankful for that message. I don’t know any other way he could’ve found out about my ‘terrible news.’ It’s crazy he thought about me. I have family members who don’t even think about me! It hits me different every time I listen to it. I had to listen to it at least 600 times since Friday.” —Felicia Amon
In his verse, Cole says, “I was brand new to the game, wasn’t used to no fame / So it was unusual when I would land in a city and see you at baggage claim / Come to find out you was workin’ for Delta / So you got to fly for the free and that means that I was seein’ you like every show.” But this story is only partially true. Yes, Felicia was a Delta employee who traveled across the United States and even attended Cole concerts in Germany and Ireland, but the time she spent behind the wheel driving from one city to another far exceeds the number of miles she earned flying to see her favorite artist perform live.
“As an employee, I did fly free, but I fly standby. I had to make sure I had a way back home," she says, laughing. "Sometimes I was cutting it so close that I had to jump right off the plane and go straight to class or straight to work.”
Felicia met Cole for the first time in 2010 at his first-ever meet-and-greet in Atlanta at the New Era Flagship Store formerly on Lucky Street. That night, at the show, Cole rapped to her after recognizing her face from earlier that day. After attending a Cole World: Sideline Story listening party in New Orleans in 2011, Felicia caught a bug for traveling. To be the first person in line for the 2012 Dreamville Weekend in North Carolina, she drove alone and waited outside for hours. At the height of her travels, Felicia attended 12 of the 27 dates for 2015's What Dreams May Come Tour. She purchased V.I.P. packages for three of the 12 shows.
For more than an hour, Felicia shared one moving story after another about her favorite artist. She fondly remembers flying to Minnesota for a Dreamville shirt giveaway, and the one time she drove to Cole’s hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina to donate school supplies for a back-to-school drive and met his mother. Always surprised to see her, Cole greeted Felicia with a smile, took pictures, and signed memorabilia.
“I used those shows as avenues of relief. They were my getaways from things I was going through. My grandma passed away in 2011, and the shows helped me process losing her. I would go to these shows and meet a lot of great people. I’ve been to a lot of concerts and I’ve listened to a lot of artists, and it’s hard to find genuine humans who are great artists.” —Felicia Amon
It’s been ten years since Felicia first heard “Losing My Balance,” the fan-favorite deep-cut on The Warm Up that jump-started her super fandom. While everyone else was listening to Drake and Lil Wayne, Felicia was clapping for Cole. Long before the Revenge of The Dreamers III album, Felicia was standing in ovation for Dreamville.
A bit overzealous at times, Felicia’s enthusiasm comes from an unselfish and genuine place. There was never any expectation that her presence and support would be recognized. Felicia merely followed the message that motivated her, and the person who reinforced her belief in dreaming. A decade later, that person is now asking her to meet him on the road once more.
Isn’t it beautiful to see the superstar clap for the fan?
By Yoh, aka Clap For Yoh, aka @Yoh31