Joey Badass at the Barrymore

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Small crowd? No problem.

“I’m still gon’ show out”

That’s exactly what the nineteen-year-old Brooklyn native did. He showed out. Joey Bada$$ shined with a performance that emulated the roots of hip-hop, bringing to Madison a traditional rap sound.

I could write a thesis about why I think Joey Bada$$ is one of the better artists today, and possibly one of the best lyricists in the game, however I’ll stick to focusing on some special parts of his October 1st performance at the Barrymore.

Joey Bada$$’s persona the other night was classic. For those who aren’t familiar with him, he pioneered the relaxed alternative hoodie and bucket hat look during the onset of his hip-hop career a couple years ago for my generation. It was great to see that he still sticks with that style despite its popularity recently.

The vocals smoothly complimented the jazzy beats with the right touch of bass to make the crowd bop their heads and bounce their arms in unison, exactly how you imagine a rap concert. Bada$$ played his more popular songs, such as “Domination” and my personal favorite, “Unorthodox.” Most of the songs he performed came from his 2012 self-released mixtape, 1999. He also performed some tracks from his upcoming studio album, B4.Da.$$, which is still in production.

The most recent song released, “Christ Conscious”, was one of the more energetic and entertaining songs that was played. The song proclaims that Joey is on another level with his music, lyrically better and more “dangerous” than most MC’s; A “top dog” who other artists need to look out for, because he’s going to be as powerful as Christ. His rough vocals combined with a classic smooth traditional hip-hop beat (including some nice horn work) gave the live song some fire.

The emotion put into every song he played made the show quite memorable. Listening to his pieces of art through headphones just isn’t as special as it is live. Many of his songs leave listeners thinking, “What in the world did he just say?” due to the poetic nature of his works. Hearing him live was more intimate, and actually witnessing instead of visualizing his passion made his masterpieces more special. The man is only eleven days older than I am, and he is choosing not to be signed for the sake of preserving his style; virtually giving up the paychecks that we all dream of having. But seeing him smile behind the microphone while formulating words that only the very intelligent can articulate showed how special he is.