On Thursday evening, hipster kids trickled into New York’s Public Arts and postured themselves on plush leather furnishing, as DJ Get Live spun in preparation for Republic Records’ #WeGotNow artists.
In no time, 1800 Tequila margaritas were floating around an open bar, while the soon-to-be radio favorites geared up backstage. The young acts began their new year backed by 2017’s Billboard Hot 100 top-ranked label and a vivacious introduction from on-air personalities Scottie Beam and Beats 1’s LowKey.
To get the showcase going, Brooklyn-born Ghanaian lyricist Blackway recited the smooth opening bars to his song “Love Day.” Known as #KenteBlackway, the buzzing MC — whose last project, New Yhana, gained momentum after its release last June — demonstrated why he exudes the perfect balance of showmanship and lyricism. Without any difficulty, Blackway managed to get the building crowd’s “hands up,” on command.
To follow up his rousing performance, Virginia virtuoso Shaboozey graced the stage decked out in vintage Wrangler jeans, which floated high above the soles of his boots. After promising the audience “next-level shit,” he comfortably bent genres as his rhymes and guitars seamlessly collided. Performing heart-pounding unreleased music, he affirmed, “We are all one; we are all unified… the revolution is love.” Still, his band’s emergence to the New York masses was long awaited. Shaboozey first buzzed on airwaves with the haunting piano keys of the hard-hitting earworm “Jeff Gordon” in 2014. Since his explosion onto the scene, he has advanced his musicianship with the anthem “Winning Streak.” The breakout record amassed more than 4 million streams on Spotify and made for a captivating set closer.
Once Shaboozey’s set concluded, DJ Soul confidently surfaced from behind the glowing We Got Now-logoed turntables and transformed the showcase into a full-on party. Soon, rapper Duckwrth fluidly twirled out to his funk-filled song “THROWYOASSOUT.” Hellbent to out-pizzazz all who touched the stage, Duckwrth professed, “We want booty sweat as far as the eyes can see. It doesn’t matter if you’re a male or female. We want everybody in here shaking their ass. So this next song is called ‘MICHUUL.,’ and I want to dedicate this song to Michael Jackson. If it wasn’t for Michael, I wouldn’t be able to wear a sequin sweater for y’all.” His flamboyant ensemble and high-kick dance moves caused a stir before the MC exposed his chest for his groovy finale, “LOWRIDR.”
Entranced by the bevy of talent hitting the We Got Now stage, the crowd was still hungry for more music. Fortunately, they got their wish when Chicago rapper Towkio stomped his way onto the stage. Clad in a pair of Yeezy Boost 950 (Moonrock) boots and his signature pigtails, the Chicago star set the venue ablaze for his magnetic tune “Hot Shit.” His poetic flow wooed onlookers, as his exuberant drummer riled up the momentum.
Fans matched Towkio’s intensity on “Symphony,” as their thunderous claps replenished the 24-year-old’s energy level onstage, allowing him to croon the song’s infectious hook: “Would you live for me/ Die for me/ Sin for me/ Cry for me/ Baby if I wrote you a symphony.” With his debut album, World Wide Wav, set to drop Feb. 16, the Rick Rubin signee proved he isn’t just worth a weighty co-sign, but a headlining appearance as well.
After watching the label’s rising stars dazzle onstage, Republic Records brought out their special guest Aminé to close out the night’s festivities. Last year, his radio smash “Caroline” climbed up the Hot 100, peaking at No. 11, and since then, his winning streak has yet to end. Aminé devotees reveled at the sight of the Portland product, especially once he segued into his track “Yellow” sans Nelly. “I wanna flex, I wanna show off/ Humble when I’m blunt, but I gotta go hard/ You’re damn right, I’m feelin’ myself,” the crowd chanted with vigor.
“We weren’t on the bill, but we were in the neighborhood. Do you mind if we do one more song for you?” he saucily questioned. Hungry for more, Aminé showcased some underestimated charisma when he jumped into “Spice Girls,” which caused everyone in the venue to go into a frenzy. But as he began to wave and thank his audience, Republic Records greeted him with a gleaming plaque. Amin? became overwhelmed by the news of his debut album, Good for You, going gold — making for an inspiring nightcap.