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On May 9th, 2018, DJs RIZ AKA RSD / DJ DSPLN / DJ AWKCUARD / DJ FIZZI POP / DJ N$TY K attended the sold out Joey Bada$$ show at The Catalyst in Downtown Santa Cruz. Each DJ gives their perspective of the show below. Check it out!

DJ AWKCUARD: I made my way to the Catalyst just as Buddy was finishing up his set. DJ DSPLN, RIZ AKA RSD, and I soon came together after to do an interview with Buddy and Boogie.

Buddy, Boogie, and their crew were absolutely hilarious and fun to hang with. Just as we got into the room, a nerf dart zooms across the room and knocks down a stack of water bottles and cups. It was hard not to laugh and have fun; we all joined in as everyone else in the room was yelling and cheering. That energy overflowed into the interview.

The interview with Buddy and Boogie ended just in time for Joey Bada$$’s set. I’ve actually seen Joey Bada$$ and Boogie perform a few years ago, so it was amazing to see how they’ve grown as artists in their stage presence. When Joey Bada$$ performed with Mick Jenkins and Denzel Curry in 2015 at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, the stage was bare compared to today’s performance on the Amerikkkana Tour. In front of the large, paisley American flag was a stage decorated with crates and his DJ sat in a booth atop a wall made of rocks—the ones you see in war movies that soldiers would use to run for safety and cover. I could be misinterpreting the meaning behind his stage set up, but the stage felt like a battlefield with the American flag looming over Joey Bada$$ as he worked his way around the stage to deliver his performance.

Joey Bada$$ really know how to get the crowd going. I saw people in the balconies and on the main floor getting hyped and singing every lyric to his songs. It was truly one of those shows you only get to experience on rare occasion, whereas a collective, everyone is vibing and enjoying the show just as much as you.

DJ Fizzi Pop: Having seen many, many shows at the Catalyst in the past couple years, this specific show has ranked in my Top 5 best I’ve seen there. Throughout the night, the crowd was super responsive to the openers just as much as they were to Bada$$ himself. There was not a lull of low energy in sight, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

I arrived at the event just in time to catch his last opener, Buddy, who hails from Compton. I had seen Buddy at a Catalyst show in the fall, and his development in stage presence and fan growth was immensely noticeable. His inspiring track “Shine” is one of my favorites of his, as it speaks about catching your dream and building from the ground up to let yourself ‘shine’. The upbeat tune reflected off the crowd’s energy and was a perfect precursor to Bada$$’s performance.

The long wait before Joey came on stage was a lot to endure considering the crowd’s anticipation, but once he appeared on stage it was like all the stress had washed away. The transition of a sold-out show having no energy to collectively dancing their cares away is a beautiful thing to witness. Every person in the crowd knew every one of his lyrics, which have a variety in theme ranging from hyping up women to the corrupt politics of the US police system. Growing up in the heart of Brooklyn, Bada$$ had witnessed since he was little the violence put on communities by law enforcement, and you can feel his heart and soul being poured out in each song with the love he has for his hometown. His music stands out amongst other rappers considering he also speaks about the corruption of money against humanity in his song Paper Trail$ (a favorite of mine), and reps the idea of humility. Despite some of his music having a deep message behind it, his overall stage presence is a huge party vibe that can get the crowd moving with one word. True bliss is looking over to both sides of you and seeing every person with their hands up and eyes closed, singing along to every lyric like its their prayer. Each song of Joey’s could relate to anybody’s lives, and it seemed every person in the Catalyst room had a deep connection to at least one song, especially his super OG tracks and his latest released ones from his Amerikkka album.

Overall, despite it being a very large and sweaty crowd the vibe of the concert was upbeat and fun, and definitely a special shout out to the sound and stage production. The volume was perfect with the bass being turned up all the way, and the light show being spectacular and perfectly aligned with the theme of each song. Joey Bada$$ is a very gifted and underrated performer.

DJ N$TY K: Joey’s openers couldn’t have done a better job of hyping up the crowd. Boogie came out to represent his audience from L.A. and had a captivating stage presence. Not enough people know about Boogie but this man has worked with promising artists like Denzel Curry and Masego. He was even interactive enough to bring up someone from the audience to freestyle rap after his set. The entire show had an old school vibe. There were tracks from The Fugees to Tupac Shakur that kept the audience active in between sets. Finally,

Joey stepped out and showed out. He flawlessly repped his east coast rap for a west coast crowd and we loved it. From the kids in the pit to his fans on the balconies, we all felt his energy. Who said west coast kids didn’t like east coast rap? Joey paid his dues to both his OG fans and newer listeners with his tracks with A$AP Ferg and Powers Pleasant to bigger to older projects like B4.Da.$$. Personally, I enjoyed this show mostly because of his older work and his east coast style and overall appreciated the old school rap.

WRITTEN BY: RIZ AKA RSD / DJ DSPLN / DJ AWKCUARD / DJ FIZZI POP / DJ N$TY K

photos by RIZ AKA RSD