A cold and windy October night in Edinburgh saw the arrival of a legend of contemporary East Coast hip hop to the Liquid Rooms, a surprisingly medium – sized venue for such a big name in hip hop. To begin with, the jazzy, mellow bars of Sampa the Great eased the crowd in with captivatingly joyous tracks such as ‘Blessings’ and jazz-fusion driven societal statement ‘Blue Boss’, leaving us feeling carefree.
In the interlude between Sampa and Joey, Joey’s DJ supplied around 15 minutes of hip hop bangers including Chance’s ‘No Problem’, Lamar’s ‘DNA’ and Snoop’s ‘Gin and Juice’. And so the crowd turned into a tumult of jostling and contented chaos which only intensified when Joey swept on stage as ‘Gin and Juice’ faded out. Beginning with ‘Rockabye Baby’, a powerfully deep-cutting piece of social commentary on the current state of America, the crowd descended into the sweaty mosh pit which would define the rest of the gig. The bulk of Joey’s set consisted primarily of songs from his latest album All Amerikkkan Bada$$, performing songs such as ‘Y U Don’t Love Me? (Miss Amerikkka)’ and ‘Land of The Free’. The rich production and pertinently fiery bars perfectly filled the venue and drove the crowd wild. In retrospect, the deep conceptual commentary of his lyrics was perhaps lost on such an energetic crowd, as it had become a sweaty free-for-all.
As the show progressed, Joey tested the loyalty of his fans by performing tracks such as ‘95 Till Infinity’ from his 2013 mixtape ‘Summer Knights’. As it turned out, most of the crowd appeared well-versed in his back catalogue and were not simply riding on the hype brought about by the hugely successful All Amerikkkan Bada$$. The adoration of the crowd reached its marrow late into the set when a chant began of “Joey, Joey, Joey fucking Badass”. This exemplary Scottish crowd’s admiration was seized upon by Joey’s DJ who created a beat around the rhythm of the chant. To everyone’s amazement Joey then performed a storming one minute freestyle, a video of which has been picked up by Genius and gone viral (link below).
For me this was a personal highlight, not only had a world-famous hip hop artist decided to perform in a medium-sized venue in Edinburgh, rather than Glasgow, but the audience had established a real connection with the artist, and directly shaped his performance. Finishing with his huge, anthemic tune ‘Devastated’, the gig ended on a general feeling of ecstasy and leaving through the doors, all around were satisfied faces.
Image Credit: Jørund Føreland Pedersen