Joey Bada$$, who’s performing at Psi U on Friday, has become one of rap’s major rising stars at the tender age of 17. With a style that recalls old school New York hip-hop and the backing of some of today’s best producers, Joey and his Pro Era crew have proven themselves to be more than just a flash in the pan. And with an infectious, lively stage presence, Joey’s Friday show looks to be shaping up to be an absolute delight.
This past summer, Joey Bada$$ released 1999, a mixtape that featured not only the backing of resident Pro Era producer Chuck Strangers but hip-hop luminaries like Madlib and MF Doom as well. And it’s clear that the producers on the album are influences of Joey Bada$$: his style recalls a late-90s era MF Doom and a “3 Feet High and Rising”-era De La Soul. Whether working the laid-back flow of “Righteous Minds” or rocking the boom-bap of “Hardknock,” he is, in many ways, a student of these 90s stars, and his music could have fit in just as well in 1997 as it does in 2012. It was a welcome addition to a hip-hop spectrum that had been lacking this classic East Coast sound for some time.
Later in the year, he put out a collection of 1999 outtakes, Rejex, that, despite not being as cohesive as his first mixtape, was still a strong outing. Tracks like the Madlib-produced “Catharsis” still rank amongst his best work. At 17, Bada$$ has an astonishingly solid body of work that landed him a deal with Green Label Sound in October as well as a television debut on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” While it’s too early to see what his debut will bring, it’s clear that the future for Joey Bada$$ is incredibly bright.
And as if this wunderkind didn’t already have his strong recordings going for him, his live performances are as infectious as his mixtapes. He and his Pro Era crew may not necessarily have the kind of theatricality that the “Watch The Throne” tour had, but what they lack in spectacle is made up for through raucous, crowd-pleasing shows. In the past, he’s brought Pro Era members like Chuck Strangers and CJ Fly onstage for rousing, frenetic sets. The Psi U show will likely rely largely on material from 1999, but with a new Pro Era mixtape coming in December, there could be some new material in the mix.
Those reminiscing about the days of East Coast rap’s heyday need look no further than this retro, rising star: Joey Bada$$ has arrived. With a youthful, powerful energy as well as some of music’s best producers behind him, Joey Bada$$ has a long and hopefully legendary career ahead of him. Even with just one official mixtape out, Joey Bada$$ has made his dominance clear. Catch him at Psi U while you can before his career rockets forward even more. You won’t regret it.