Inside the intimate confines of SOB‘s, NYC’s go-to hip-hop venue, Joey Bada$$ and The Progressive Era announced their NYC takeover. Shouting “beast coast” well over 50 times throughout the night, the crew celebrated their newfound fame and gave the crowd exactly what they wanted — classic hip-hop from the young homies. Note the plural. What this show really proved is that The Progressive Era is so much more than just Joey Bada$$ and his MF DOOMian flow. Enter the era.
The teens from Brooklyn can spit. As the lesser knowns of The Pro Era opened the show one by one, it only became increasingly clear that event the members you’ve never heard of have talent well beyond their years. The crowd, still getting to know the rest of the Era started to really vibe out when Chuck Strangers, a more familiar face, took the stage. Wearing a flowered polo and a face full of expression, Chuck ignited the crowd. Smoking a joint and smiling for the cameras, Strangers seemed like no stranger to the stage and from that moment on everyone was hooked. One after the next from Capital STEEZ to CJ Fly and T’nah Apex— the incredible female rapper who stole the show and brought back distant memories of a rapping Lauryn Hill — there was no lull in meaningful rhymes. What’s almost most spectacular about the crew is that they’re so relatable. As teenagers, they’re saying things that all ages can bump to.
But you’re still waiting for Joey. About 2 and a half hours after the doors opened, Joey Bada$$ finally made his appearance. Following STEEZ’s short feature, as The Era were rolling 15 deep (at least) and truly killing it on stage, the Bada$$ himself appeared. It took no special introduction for the crowd to go wild. The Pro Era picture was finally complete and felt just right — A bunch of long time friends on stage together who mesh perfectly, all having the time of their lives and rapping like it’s the only thing they’ve ever done.
And this is when Joey is ready to announce the takeover. “Y’all know we got NYC,” he shouts. Is he trying to brew some beef? Is it even really true? The blogs are talking, the crowd is digging it, but it still seems like the audience is a bunch of high school kids. The truth is, with “Downtown Queen” Vashtie hosting the show and directing the next video, they’re at least close to the top. The weirdest part was their insistence on shouting “Tupac back” and “RIP Tupac” almost as much as they repped the “beast coast.” An NYC takeover while endlessly supporting the West. Oh, how the ghosts of Biggie and ‘Pac would be proud.
But back to Joey. Surrounded by his crew about 15 deep, he didn’t always stand out as the star. He seemed out of breath at times (at one point requesting, and receiving, a chair from the crowd that he gladly plopped down on), Joey retreated to the back of the stage, chilling with his friends as some of the lesser known Pro Era’s increasingly proved themselves. Yet when Joey wanted the spotlight back, he took it. For one short song the rest of the crew filed off the stage one-by-one for a Joey solo, but that didn’t last long. Three minutes later he called them all back, insisting that they stay up there with him. This show is about crew love and Joey didn’t even appear fully comfortable alone yet, the only moment his age really showed.
The full crew remained onstage together the rest of the performance and the show ended the only way it possibly could: first with a rendition of “Suspect” and then a full on cypher. The DJ switched mediums from a laptop and turntable to incredible beatboxing as an epic freestyle took place. Joey didn’t have much left to say at that point, comfortably taking his place in the back of the stage and allowing his friends to shine. They ended like a crew of close friends pushing each other to be better, rhyme better, and perform better.
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