With some of the best loved venues in the city closing down in the past few years (R.I.P HMV Picturehouse), and a plethora of venues fit to suit any artist of any size an hour down the road in Glasgow, most touring musicians tend to head to Dear Green Place rather than playing in the capital.
Nevertheless, we imagine if New Yorker Joey Bada$$ does return to Scotland at some point he’ll be pointing his finger at Edinburgh when he’s asked for his tour route. The sold out Liquid Room was absolutely shaking the entire way through Joey’s set.
An acclaimed warm up act in Sampa the Great meant that the venue was already packed from early on, and a DJ letting loose hooks from recent hip hop favourites in the break between Sampa and Joey meant that the room was already bouncing heavily well before Bada$$ even took to the stage.
When he did, he was greeted with a sold out Scottish crowd that knew near enough every word that came from his lips. No mean feat for a rap gig.
The bulk of Joey's set came from his AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ record, released in April earlier this year.
What we particularly like about the record is that no matter where in the world it’s toured, you’re almost guaranteed to hear the crowd yell out “fuck Donald Trump” in unison at some point during the gig. It’s a line from ‘Rockabye Baby’, a song by Joey featuring Schoolboy Q, and it opened the night in Edinburgh. The capital crowd shouted most of the song back at Bada$$, and that particular line was met with particular fervour.
Good job Joey. Good job Edinburgh.
AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ is a political record. Joey calls out Trump numerous times, comments on racism and social injustice throughout the album, and of course there’s also the name of the record - a nod to Ice Cube's famous AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted.
Joey’s flow is hypnotic throughout. He doesn’t slip up once. The audience are bouncing to no end. One girl drops her phone, picks it up five seconds later and it’s smashed to pieces. Mosh pits form song after song. The entire floor is jumping bar the front line, and Joey himself even looks particularly pleased, if a little surprised, by how familiar the audience are with his work and how vocal they are during not only the hooks but the verses as well.
'Temptation', 'Land of the Free' and closing tune 'Devastated' are some of the highlights. Inclusions of old number 'Paper Trail$' also gets a gasp for the crowd, and digging even deeper into the back catalogue, 'Waves' from 2012 showcases just how strong Joey’s game has always been. He may only be 22, but Joey has been around for some time, and we don’t imagine he’s going away anytime soon.
The rapper finishes his set not with the final song 'Devastated', but with a three-verse freestyle based around a chorus created by the ongoing chant of “Joey, Joey, Joey fucking Bada$$” from the audience. If there was any doubt over the man's lyrical talent before the gig (and to be honest, we don't think there was) then it was put to bed there and then.
This is a rapper with talent, and a sold-out gig to remember. He probably could have sold out the Liquid Room twice.