Joey Bada$$ came through Denver, Colorado’s Ogden Theater this last week on the latest leg of his AmeriKKKana Tour, which began on Apr. 17 in Boston, MA. Opening Bada$$’s show were Chuck Strangers, whose SoundCloud is worth some attention, but who I had never heard of till show night. As someone who prides himself on keeping up to date, it was definitely lovely to catch that fresh ear worm as Chuck dropped lyrics to start the night. I have to admit, I think he needs more stage time to get his vocals clear on that mic. Either that or he needs to move up the billing so they tune the mic to him.
Up after Chuck was a personal favorite rapper of mine, Boogie, who brought exactly the fire I would hope to hear from him. Check out this Pitchfork piece on him; he was recently signed to Eminem’s Shady Records, so you know he’s got a future ahead of him. The song that really grabbed my attention as he caught fame, and which he absolutely murdered on stage at the Ogden, is called Nigga Needs, a rhythmic, brooding ode to Compton, Black life, the hustle, and hope. It’s powerful. Considering I was onboard with seeing Bada$$ and hadn’t checked the playbill for the show, you can guess I was supremely delighted to see him get on stage.
Last up before Bada$$, Buddy came to the stage and dropped both incredible verses and energy. Did anyone see him stop dancing? I didn’t. Another rapper I hadn’t heard of, I was a pinch salty he was higher up the billing that Boogie, but he came through. My bad. Dude has serious skills. Check his Soundcloud for the receipts. Standout songs include Shine, an infectious borderling pop rap cut about dealing with life, getting bigger, and a chorus – “I can’t help but shine” – that’ll have you singing along in no time. A final standout song is Black, a powerful affirmation of Blackness, Black life, Black struggle, and Black emotions in a country that hates Black. Boogie came out on stage to lend support. Lyrics were deep, including this section:
I feel like Trayvon with this black hoodie on
Huey P. Newton
I’m with a Nubian Queen and some illegal aliens
I got a black fist balled up and it ain’t just me, it’s all us
Four hundred years of oppression
I’m about to get me that black Tesla
Black Skid marks on the pavement
Cops wanna see me in a black cage
Black on black on black
Finally, Joey Bada$$ came out, about 40 minutes after set time and numrous spontaneous bouts of “Joey! Joey!” chants. If I’m being honest, I couldn’t tell if the crowd loved Bada$$ more than Bada$$ loved the crowd. Running through his entire dicography, from “this is for my day 1’s” 1999, pre-fame cuts all the way up to All Amerikkkan Bada$$. If memory serves, he extended the show three or four times on some, “this is the best show of the entire tour so far” type love. With the crowd singing along, and almost over, Bada$$ on crowd favorites like Tempation, Paper Trails, and Love Is Only a Feeling. I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that my team met two young women who worked at a local Denver strip club and Love is Only a Feeling was definitely their favorite. Standout moments, for me, included the entire crowd of [mostly] white kids, mixed with people of color, chanting “Fu*k White Supremacy” over and over. That’s badass in a city well known for its extensive racist history, including having the most extensive KKK networks west of the Mississippi (see: Hooded Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Colorado, by Robert Alan Goldberg).
All in, there are a lot of show to see in Colorado, and I see a lot of shows. This was standout good. Well executed from bottom to top, excellent production in an always glorious venue, and a crowd that was ready to go all in. We’ll def be at the next Bada$$ show. Dude brings it.
Enjoy the pics.