With the World Domination tour’s prime Saturday night stop reserved for Silver Spring, I knew that DC was going to turn out to the Fillmore for the third leg of Joey Bada$$’s tour, featuring rappers Denzel Curry and Bishop Nehru. To my surprise, arriving at the venue I saw people still purchasing tickets at the box office, but I wrote it off as a fluke as I knew DC hip hop fans would not sleep on a lineup this strong. Last spring Joey Bada$$ came to DC for the annual Broccoli City Music Festival in Southeast for Earth Day. The energy level of the crowd was less than what I’d seen at Joey’s shows in the past, but it was a long, rainy day and I think the festival layout made for a diluted feel in the crowd, but this show was completely different.
Bishop Nehru, a young artist also hailing from New York, started off the night, coming out onto the stage with a mask the likes of which MF Doom would wear, which is fitting because his most recent project was a collaboration entirely produced by Doom himself. After removing the mask, giving way to some of his more pleasant cuts, Nehru worked the crowd. While I expected more of the audience to be familiar with his music, he seemed to get the crowd into it, which surprised me as he is merely 19, on his first tour of this size. Having seen him this summer in a much smaller venue (less than a hundred people), I feel that he adapted well to the 2,000-odd crowd.
Next on stage was Dade County underground rapper Denzel Curry. Coming off his double EP from this summer 32 Zel / Planet Shrooms, Curry has had some momentum that definitely carried into this performance. I had never seen him prior to this show, but I love his music, so I was beyond excited to see him perform mosh-inducing tracks such as “Threatz” and “Ultimate,” neither of which disappointed. Because Joey has many hard songs but can also kick back, I felt Nehru and Curry were a good balance of openers: Nehru with his laid back, MF Doom instrumentals and Curry with his heavy hitting bangers from the Florida underground. Curry was the yang to Nehru’s yin, and his electrifying performance, (for which he brought out JK the Reaper, a similarly heavy-hitting artist from Greensboro, NC) set the tone for what was the best Joey show I’ve ever seen.
When Joey came out to “Paper Trails,” arguably his best song off his most recent project B4.DA.$$, it was clear what the crowd was in store for. A mere 20 year old with an impressively extensive catalogue of fan favorites, Joey has limitless energy and charisma beyond his years when he performs. Even when I saw him as an 18 year old he outperformed some of the most popular rappers I’ve seen live. The ebb and flow from Joey’s relaxed, blunt-smoking side to his militant, head-knocking side was a sight to see. The ordering of the set list was an art in and of itself, and the crowd never knew what to expect, but was never let down. Capping off the night with a lit performance of “Survival Tactics” in honor of the late, great Capital STEEZ, Joey opened up the biggest pit I’ve ever seen at a show and ended one of my most memorable nights this fall on a high note. Badmon won’t stop growing as an artist or performer anytime soon.