Excitement and anticipation was at a high as The Forum filled to the brim for the first of two Naarm/Melbourne shows for Joey Bada$$‘s 2000 tour. Even when he didn’t take to the stage till 20 minutes later than scheduled, chants and energy intensified as the Brooklyn-based artist strutted on stage with ‘Survival Tactics’ ringing as his entrance theme.

Joey is undoubtedly one of the best rappers alive and has an extremely impressive resume, first and foremost as an MC but as an actor too. Yet, he still frequently goes under the radar. 2000 was one of the best rap albums of 2022, a follow up to his 2012 breakout record, 1999. Him and his Pro Era collective have been extremely consistent over the years, with Joey being the shining light for the Beast Coast movement.

Melbourne fans were excited to lay their eyes on someone that hip-hop labelled a prodigy at 16 years old. Unsure what to expect whether it be classics or more recent music, fans were hyped regardless and Joey matched their energy. Gaging that it was a crowd full of real fans, he followed up ‘Survival Tactics’ with ‘Paper Trails’ and ‘Christ Conscious’ soon after. There was a thick layer of energy that covered the entire room, and it didn’t break until the end of the show.

“Joey, Joey, Joey f***ing Bada$$” chants were a regular throughout, before, and after, seemingly catching on after his viral freestyle to the chant at a show a few years ago. Even in the midst of the hype, Joey’s personality, and intelligent and insightful character radiates through his art.

Changing to a more solemn approach, Joey dedicated ‘Head High’ to some of hip-hop’s recent fallen artists like XXXTENTACION, Nipsey Hussle and more. A touching tribute that was felt throughout The Forum’s walls. He followed it up by unexpectedly performing ‘Infinity 888’, his 2018 collaboration with X from right before his passing.

Melbourne or Naarm? What ya’ll prefer?!

– Joey Bada$$ to his sold-out crowd in Melbourne.

Joey put on one of the most impressive live performances I’ve seen. His vocals were crispy clean. It was clear that there was no backing audio and no lip-sinking, yet his vocal performance was exactly the same as it was through the headphones. That might be what you’d expect if you haven’t been to many shows before but that’s frequently not the case, especially for someone as high-energy and technical as Joey. His energy throughout didn’t crash, and he frequently interacted with the crowd in engaging and personal ways, including an extensive thank you that lasted over 2 minutes towards the end.

The 2500 fans in attendance knew every single word to the classics, many citing that it wasn’t their first Joey show. At 27 years-old, having such a diehard global fanbase while not straying too far from his roots and not being the biggest name in rap is more than impressive. Even more impressively, he’s had this fan base for years. Joey is global in every essence of the world. He’s arguably a better actor than he is rapper, which is saying something given his elite rapping ability. He’s been doing this since he was a kid, only growing more and more with each project.

A highlight was towards the end, before he signed off with ‘DEVASTATED’. He asked if they prefer good or bad news, to which he had an answer for both. Bad news first and good last was his style, as was the crowds. He told them they were cutting him short, and got them to boo the staff. Get the crowd on his side despite the lateness – genius. The good news however, was that ‘TEMPTATION’ would be played before his curtain closer.

I’d heard a lot about Joey performances: from family members to friends to industry insiders. A Bada$$ live show was almost like a myth that was an under the breath “if you know, you know” when discussing dope live performers. Safe to say I didn’t know. After being a fairly avid Joey listener for nearly a decade, he didn’t disappoint. His Forum show confirmed Joey’s simultaneous veteran-with-an-endless-amount-left-to-offer status.

The next step for him would be transitioning to arenas, and it would be amazing to see him incorporate skits into his shows given his incredible ability in front of the camera. As he proclaimed Melbourne as his favourite place in Australia, the Melbourne faithful let him know that he’s also their favourite. Now, Joey Bada$$ is a name that will forever be mentioned alongside the extensive list of New York greats, and he’s far from a retirement tour.

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