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Joey Bada$$ - Garage, Glasgow - November 18 2014 (Live Review)

Monday, 15 December 2014 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

After three years of waiting, 'B4.DA.$$', the debut record from Brooklyn teenager Joey Bada$$, is finally on its way in January. He acknowledges the fact halfway through his set at the Garage in Glasgow, stressing that he wanted to “give his real fans a taste of what's to come”.

He very much represents a new generation of emcee and, much like Kendrick Lamar, the 19-year-old’s verses possess a confessional hue. Bada$$ is unafraid to sacrifice bravado, attempting to offer a meaningful perspective on life in New York as a young black male. Despite his natural talent, he comes across as overtly humble, tonight directing the crowd's chants towards his late collaborator Capital STEEZ.

With that said, though, he is also a hip hop purist's emcee. Wave and Like Water are full of class, with the young rapper convincingly flowing over jazzy, ‘90s-influenced beats. Whether he's rapping solo, or alongside his similarly-minded crew Pro Era, Bada$$ is adaptable enough to do justice to a vintage style of production.

He did attract criticism for switching up his delivery on his last mixtape, 'Summer Knights', but tonight he neither sounds abrasive or aggressive. And, although he's joined on stage by associate Kirk Knight, Bada$$ has a strong voice that doesn't require a hype man for effect.

The Glasgow crowd responds enthusiastically to everything thrown at them, from Pharoahe Monch throwbacks to Knight's demands for a giant pit to closing track Survival Tactics.

The energy in the room is palpable, but the vast majority still impeccably observe a minute's silence for the rapper's fallen comrade STEEZ. A five minute chant of “Steelo” promptly follows, and even Bada$$ looks surprisingly touched. Based on the reaction he's garnered before he’s released an album, it is fair to say that 2015 may just be this kid's year.

 

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