These days, Joey Bada$$ isn’t being billed in the media as an upcoming 90s era renaissance rapper. His 2017 release ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ has received widespread praise as one of the top albums of the year thus far, showcasing an artist tuned into the state of Black America who’s developed his own, unique sound. He received the similar applause for his breakout 2012 mixtape 1999, and even though this time around he’s on a much larger stage, Joey hasn’t forgotten where it all started. Celebrating 1999’s 5th birthday this summer, the Brooklyn rapper set off on a mini tour for his loyal fans, stopping in Los Angeles over the weekend to perform at the Echoplex.
Fans were lining up by 4 PM to secure their spot, eager to see the rapper perform. Many brought foldable chairs and speakers to pass the time, and even in the hot sun the mood was light as people bonded with each other over their favorite Joey Bada$$ memories.
Around 8:30 the doors finally opened, and the intimate venue filled up quickly. Fresh talent out of Atlanta took the stage first, as Spillage Village artists J.I.D. and EarthGang played a joint set to warm up the crowd. Energy was high as soon as they burst on stage, with the artists serving as each other’s hype men when they weren’t the ones rapping to the crowd. J.I.D. started it off with the J. Cole produced “LAUDER,” the final song off his debut album The Never Story. The EarthGang duo was going wild no matter who was on the mic, climbing the railing while rapping “Voodoo” off Spillage Village’s newest album, Bears Like This Too Much.
After the trio exited, Statik Selektah came onto the stage and set up shop behind the turntables. The Boston producer has made beats for the likes of Nas, Eminem, and Raekwon, and kicked off the headlining set with Mobb Deep’s “Quiet Storm” to pay tribute to another hip-hop legend, Prodigy. He continued with a mix of some of the rapper’s greatest hits before holding a moment of silence in his honor, thanking the crowd and giving up the spotlight with the words “Welcome to 1999.”
The Echoplex erupted as the man of the hour walked on stage to the heralded mixtape’s intro song, “Summer Knights.” Fans who had blocked off most of their day for the event chanted every word as he followed it up with “Waves,” one of the songs that first gave him major recognition.
The first half of the set was strictly 1999, giving many that sentimental feeling Joey had hoped for when he announced the show on his Instagram the day before. He took a break to thank his day one fans and dedicate the night to “recapturing that nostalgia” from five years ago, before launching into “World Domination” and letting the crowd scream the hook. The rapper later ended his song “Hardknock” in acapella, receiving more loud cheers once he finished.
People in the audience had been relatively calm for the beginning of his set, but everything changed when Statik Selektah dropped the hard-hitting “Survival Tactics.” After taking off his sweatshirt as if expecting what was about to happen, Joey leapt off the stage into the pit, surfing over the front rows before being held up in the middle of the crowd by a swarming sea of hands. He traveled through almost the entire room before finally returning to the stage, and the mosh pits kept going for the rest of the night.
After playing most of 1999 Joey gave the crowd some newer material, completing the progression of his catalogue throughout the show. “Paper Trails” and “Christ Conscious” were some of highlights off B4.DA.$$, his debut studio album that released in 2015. After, he ran through several songs off ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, playing “ROCKABYE BABY,” “FOR MY PEOPLE,” and “TEMPTATION” before ending the setlist with “DEVASTATED,” his biggest single to date. He then gave the crowd some words of wisdom to cap off the night, advising everyone to use the music to inspire them in their own pursuits, and to stop at nothing on the road to success. It was a memorable experience for everyone who managed to get into the building, and something to hold dear as Joey Bada$$ continues to be a growing icon in music.