by NAOMI HARRIS
Students leaned against the barricades with clear anticipation in their eyes while music pumped through the speakers and the lights dimmed down until the only thing they focused on was the stage. The stage that Joey Bada$$ would run onto within a couple of hours for the inaugural concert, “Attack of the Backpack.”
This past Thursday night, SEE hosted their back to school concert with that famous kid from Bed-Stuy Brooklyn.
Up first were two DJs from New York, Benzi and Esentrik, going by the name of TWRK.
“I’m excited to see the other two performers,” said Dante Cannon, a history major, while waiting in the lobby of Ritchie.
“I’ve never heard of them before and I’d like to check out their music.”
Indeed, TWRK played a great set with remixes and integration of songs like Freak (by Diplo, Stevie Aoki and Deorro) and the famous, Tip Toeing in My Jordans (by Riff Raff).
But due to the highly anticipated main act, the crowd stood and simply nodded their heads to the bass more so than dance along to the hype TWRK gave off.
As TWRK finished up their set the next DJ, Henry Fong, showed up for a moment to get ready and the crowd cheered at the sight of his long dreads and easy going smile.
Fong, from Florida, forced the energy out of the crowd with not only his electro-styled sound but every once in awhile he’d yell into the mic or jump up and down. With the combination of fast paced music and pulsing energy he gave off, Fong created the necessary buzz the crowd needed.
With each song he performed, people continued filing into the gym and as his set winded down the excitement for Joey was tangible.
“I like how he brings the raw hip-hop sound to this century.” Shayne Dennis, a computer science major, explained.
“There are not a lot of rappers who bring fresh material like Joey,” he said. And Dennis was not the only student to think so. Other students expressed similar appreciation.
A broadcast journalism major, Kofie Yeboah, talked about the flow Joey and the other members of his crew, Progressive Era, brought back to the coast.
“I like how they bring that East Coast vibe, and that original 90s East Coast vibe back,” he explained.
Joey has released three mixtapes, toured with Wiz Khalifa and A$AP Rocky and performed with artists like Kendrick and Disclosure. He’s still young, he turned 19 in January, but he’s talented.
And the students crowding by the barricades are just an example of the fans Joey has generated over the past couple of years.
“He’s creative.” Daniel Jjemba, a civil engineering major, said.
“He’s trying to do something different with his music.”
While the students waited and danced to Fong, Joey sat in the dressing room during the interview and showed us why he’s made such an impact on the hip-hop community.
He never asked himself about how he wanted to be remembered because that isn’t important to him.
“I’m just on a constant path upward, rarely ever looking back and rarely every looking down,” Joey said after taking a pause to think. Wearing a bucket hat with his group, Pro Era, inscribed on the front he leaned forward and at times stared off to consider what he wanted to say.
He is deliberate. Every question he answered was with heavy thought and he made it easy to forget that he is still a 19-year-old guy from Brooklyn.
“Hip hop to me is the lifestyle that you live, you know?” He asked and waited while we nodded.
“Not only does it include the whole demeanor of it but it also includes the whole knowledge and wisdom that you get from it.”
When Joey walked up the steps and headed onto the stage, his signature bucket hat and towel on his head, the crowd wanted to reach him so badly they nearly broke down the barrier.
The moment he began rapping over the familiar 90s beat, the crowd cheered.
Throughout his journey, Joey has learned a lot from other artists.
“They (Disclosure) taught me how to move people in a whole new way,” Joey said about Disclosure, and he learned well from them.
Each song, whether unreleased from his anticipated album, B4Da$$, or from his first mixtape, 1999, Joey kept the crowd engaged and dancing hard to his music.
At one point he asked, “Do you feel my energy?”
And the crowd roared back as a reply.
Not only did Joey Bada$$ perform but other members of Pro Era ran onto stage to perform as well, like Nick Caution. He even sang a new song revolving around the lyrics of, “Live for the highs and live through the lows.”
“I try my best to keep the content on point for anybody’s kid or any kid looking up to me.” Joey explained because for him, he takes his new role as a leader, seriously.
“Just look at life a different way, if they are looking at it in a different way. The lighter way.” He said when it comes to the music he produces and the lyrics he chooses purposefully for fans listening.
Throughout his performance, Joey not only vibed in sync with the crowd but he set a high standard for next year.
“I don’t want anybody to have expectations from me.” He said before the interview ended and he prepared to get on stage.
“I don’t have expectations from anyone else. I go and I accept.”