Emerging hip-hop hero Joey Bada$$, wearing an old school Tupac shirt and sporting short dreadlocks, proved he was deserving of his main stage placement early in the day on Friday (April 15) at Coachella, winning over an audience that grew throughout his set thanks to confidence, charisma, and a 4-piece band that allowed Bad$$ space while complementing his easy-going flow.
His grooves are decidedly retro; many of the classic acts the 21-year-old’s vibes conjured, from the Roots to Wu-Tang, predate his formative years. The backpack spirit doesn’t feel gimmicky, though — his rhymes still come off tough and tight, even if the tracks are free flowing.
Bada$$ promised new songs and delivered two: An 80s-ish joint with the refrain “it’s just the way you feel” and another harder song where Bada$$ rapped, “I used to feel so devastated” between verses. Unlike most early-day artists, Bada$$ had full production for his Coachella set. The massive LED screen behind him shuffled from cartoons to lyrics, clearly customized for the show.
In fact, toward the end, Bada$$ made a bold claim. “I’m a motherf–king pro so I changed it to Prochella” he boasted, tipping to his Pro Era crew. The screen behind him showed an updated Prochella logo for the fest, and although it was a joke, it was nevertheless hard to argue with.