This past Tuesday, the crowd at one of San Francisco’s most iconic theaters prepared for a night of Brooklyn’s finest. The sold-out show was a part of Joey Bada$$‘s B4DA$$ tour to promote his next album. His performance also included his Pro Era brothers – Nyck Caution, Kirk Kinght, CJ Fly, and Dyemond Lewis – all under the beats of Statik Selektah. In addition, there was an appearance by Long Beach up-and-comer Vince Staples who has just released his album Hell Can Wait.
The evening began with Pro Era as each member took the stage — together and separately — to perform classic collaborations from PEEP: The aPROcalypse (2012) including “School High” and “The Resurrection of Real.” They threw in snippets and sections of tracks from their own solo works, enhancing the setlist. Kirk Knight, in particular, was able to attract the crowd with “Extortion,” bringing out a lively reaction. By the time CJ Fly ended his set, however, the crowd’s energy was starting to wane; they were saving their energy for Joey himself.
Two hours into the show, Joey Bada$$ emerged from the red 47 door. He owned the stage, resonated with the crowd, and threw down some impeccable flows. He properly balanced his set with features from his earlier albums, 1999 (2012) and Summer Knights (2013), as well as upcoming studio release, B4DA$$. He gave the crowd a taste of hard and fast tracks as well as more lyrically focused tracks like “On and On.” By the end, the entire crew was onstage with him.
The overarching theme of the show was respect for their fallen brother, Capital STEEZ, a talented young rapper and Pro Era founder who took his own life at the age of 19 in 2012. Each member took time out of their set to pay homage to Capital STEEZ and, in the concluding moments of the show, they came together to perform “Like Water,” a song the group had dedicated to him after his suicide. We could feel the weight of the loss with every moment of silence.
For their third tour since formation and their first this year, Pro Era put on a balanced set with lots of energy and visible joy; however, they need to establish a performance that reflects the music they make. While studio-quality audio is unrealistic live, the effortless, lyrical flows and rhythms of their recordings are more likely to appease listeners than the shouting of lyrics through a microphone, which more accurately described the quality of the sound Tuesday night.
The show ended with the performers enjoying themselves in the crowd, to the rhymes of Capital STEEZ. The audience left smiling and hyped in anticipation of Joey’s new album, due this fall, and Pro Era left to continue on their four-month international tour.
Article by Arnav Chaturvedi