When Brooklyn's Pro Era poster child Joey Bada$$ talks about energy, he's not just trying to get the crowd hyped. At 20, he might be young, but the rapper who's known for his technical flow and
Following a particularly turned-up set by one of South Florida's most promising young rap stars, Denzel Curry, Bada$$ had some ground to regain. Curry went in fast and hard for his opening set this past Friday at Revolution Live, riding off the high from the summer release of his acclaimed double EP, 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms and
"How many y'all watch Dragon Ball Z in this muthafucka?" the Carol City champion of the underground
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Curry dropped a no-nonsense mix from his steadily growing catalog, including "Zone 3" and "
True to his bipolar style, Curry bounced between his angry, edgier tracks to his more playful, trippy ones, never losing the attention of his audience. "I'm mad as fuck today, man. I just don't know what it is," he mused, riding on some serious future apocalypse vibes. As Denzel Curry closed his set, it was clear he'd brought out a strong local following, his aggressive, psychedelic, net culture-soaked style perfectly crystalizing South Florida suburban youth.
With energy still pulsing off Curry, the crowd needed a few minutes to cool down before getting hyped back up for the night's headliner. Joey Bada$$'s tour DJ and producer Statik Selektah hopped on the decks quick to throw down some old school beats, offering up a bit of scratch-style DJing for the digital-gen crowd. By 10:30, fans were buzzing as Bada$$ came out and played "Paper Trail$" off his latest full-length effort B4.DA.$$, which sort of plays out like a new "C.R.E.AM." If there's one thread that flowed through all the night's performers, it had to be nostalgia. Clad in a white T, baseball cap, and flannel button-down, Bada$$ looked like the image of the '90s rap heroes he likely grew up watching on YouTube.
"You know how this works," Bada$$ instructed the crowd Shaman-style as he took in their simmering energy. "I only put back out the energy y'all put in." Diving into the rest of his performance, Bada$$ showed he knows how to handle a crowd with deftness, especially for a performer of his age, crafting a set that built steadily on itself, with peaks and valleys timed just right. It didn't take long before the rapper stripped off his shirts, sweat dripping over his lean cuts as he bobbed and weaved across the stage to his smooth lyrical flow.
Fans rapped along with every track, the more mellow and reflective "
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For a rapper whose pretty clearly-defined, old-school style can come off as more serious and subdued on his recordings, Joey Bada$$'s performance on Friday night was completely commanding, his raps always coming through clearly even at his most loud and aggressive moments. Whether perched, sweat glistening, at the edge of the stage or leading the audience in "Beast Coast" chants between tracks, Bada$$ owned the room with an easy finesse. "I do this in my sleep," he told us.
With a group of highly skilled young rappers bolstering his performance — Bishop Nehru's stripped-down opening set was also notably raw and captivating for its simplicity — Joey Bada$$ allowed the talent of his World Domination Tour crew to shine without ever failing to live up to his own hype. Like his smartly crafted rhymes, the night just flowed, and in an honestly pretty heartwarming show out for South Florida's humble local music scene, the crowd rode the wave, showing we might just be in the midst of a second Golden Era for hip-hop.