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Prepping J Cole’s NBA All-Star Game Halftime Show

By Clive Young. The artist’s well-received performance followed five days of intense rehearsal and recording.

Charlotte, NC (March 22, 2019)—The Playroom, one of Charlotte’s oldest and most established rehearsal facilities, hosted rapper/singer J Cole and his team for five days as the artist prepared for his halftime performance at the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, held at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte on February 17.

First taking over the facility’s National Room on February 10, the production rehearsed using a monitor package provided by Mike Hartis and his team at Specialized Sound and Light (Concord, NC); gear included an Avid Venue Profile desk, JBL SRX 835 sidefills and subs and QSC HPR122 floor wedges. Backline was supplied by Bryan Akers at Carolina Backline (Charlotte, NC).

After two days’ rehearsal, it was time to record. As The Playroom’s owner, Eddie Z, recounted to Pro Sound News, “On February 12, the J Cole team moved in to The Production Room and The Vault recording studio, where we spent two days tracking, editing and mixing all of the music for the NBA halftime show. Because of the production demands of the night, the entire musical and vocal bed was pre-recorded—only J Cole’s vocal was live.”

Firehouse Fires Up RF for NBA All-Star Weekend

The recording process itself found different parts of the ensemble working in different spaces. “As the band input list was 40 inputs, the songs were tracked in two passes each, as The Vault is 24 in x 32 out, all Apogee converters, controlled by a Big Ben master clock,” said Z. “We used the Avid Venue Profile console in the Production Room to supply 10 different stereo ears mixes to the musicians, and we also split the mic inputs at the console to send 24 inputs at a time to the Vault to be handled by the Neotek Elite 2 console. Next pass was the remaining tracks. The background vocalists were recorded in the Vault’s vocal booth using dynamic mics through Neve pres, using the Stereo 2 mix off the Neotek as their guide.

Recording the tracks in Avid Pro Tools were recording engineers Mark Williams, Eddie Z and Gabriel Jules, assisted by Logan Foland. In charge of Production for J Cole’s team was Grammy award-winner Raymond Rogers. Throughout the sessions, members of the NBA’s audio team came by to monitor progress. And as if The Playroom didn’t have enough going on, elsewhere in the facility, dancers for Meek Mill—who opened the game with his own performance—were onsite rehearsing, too.

“It was awesome hearing our work broadcast all over the world!” said Z. “Very gratifying. Also, longtime Playroom clients Anthony Hamilton, Shago Elizondo and Lamont McCain did an amazing job on the National Anthem. It was a truly wonderful showing for The Playroom and its clients.”

The Playroom •