Brooklyn’s finest hip-hop prodigy Joey Bada$$’ striking charisma permeated NYC Rough Trade with an air of confidence yet humbleness as he flaunted his unique energy. The other day Joey announced on Facebook that he would be performing in Williamsburg’s hip venue and record store NYC Rough Trade to promote his debut album ‘B4.DA.$$’ for those who queued to purchase the album at 11 AM the day before its release. Although I ended up waiting one and a half hours, the concert was totally worth it. Rough Trade’s intimate venue was perfect for the crowd of 150 and attracted Joey’s long time “true supporters” as he called us.
I had many expectations for the young MC from both ‘B4.DA.$$’ and this gig in general. Joey really kicked off the show with such ease and always kept the crowd going regardless of whether he performed a new song or one of his older bangers. Mostly performing songs from ‘B4.DA.$$’, including “Paper Trail$”, “Piece of Mind”, “Like Me” “Teach Me” and “On & On”, Joey was able to get the crowd excited with his fresh material. However it was also nice that even though the gig’s main purpose was to promote new tracks, he performed bangers such as “Christ Conscious”, “No. 99” and “Big Dusty” that the majority of the crowd could spit along to.
My favorite part of the concert was when the whole Pro Era crew ran out to pay tribute to Capital Steez by playing “Like Water” following with a moment of silence for him. After the tribute, Statik Selektah sampled Dre and Snoop’s “Deep Cover” while the Pros including CJ Fly, Dessy Hinds, and Kirk Knight as well as Joey free-styled over the track while keeping the hook of “yeah, and you don’t stop, cause it’s 187 on an undercover cop”. You could really see how the collective all have such chemistry and enjoyed ciphering together.
The show ended with Joey saying that he wanted all of us to go ape shit and create a huge mosh pit for the classic “Survival Tactics”, which was probably the best way to close the show.
Overall, this was such an exciting show and I’ve been listening to B4.DA.$$ on repeat since. It’s obvious that Joey Bada$$ has come such a long way since his mixtapes ‘1999’ and ‘Summer Knights’, which had some great hits but also some misses. One complaint that I had with Joey as well as the rest of the Pro Era was that they used too many samples over emulating 90s hip hop. But one thing I’ve gathered from seeing him in concert and listening to the new LP is that Joey has come such a long way and has become significantly more versatile and balanced. So much of the new album sounds reminiscent of old school hip hop and R&B but you still can really feel the present in the tracks either in his focused flow or eclectic instrumentals.
‘B4.DA.$$’ has a plethora of styles including R&B-infused sounds associated with The Fugees, a little reggae twist in “Belly of the Beast”, and of course jazz vibes paying homage to groups like A Tribe Called Quest and the Roots. On top of that, Joey carries a strong message in this album as seen in its title and “Paper Trail$” referring to ‘C.R.E.A.M’ throughout the song while rapping about how money has changed him in a negative way and how money becomes the root/route of evil of all people but it is something that everyone needs.
Joey and the Pros lyrical flow has always been so genuine compared other rappers of this day, which is something you wouldn’t really expect. I have somehow always managed to miss Joey’s shows and but I’m so glad that I was in the city and got to see him in such a small intimate venue. I’ve honestly been disappointed with many hip-hop albums this past year but ‘B4.DA.$$’ has really given me hope for 2015 and I can’t wait to hear more from Joey and the rest of Pro Era in the future.
Words: Siv Nilsson