Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Smoker's Club Tour 2013: Joey Bada$$, Pro Era, Ab-Soul, The Underachievers & more

I'm sure Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom is still picking up roaches from last night's events. Coloradans take pride in their weed and when the major smokers of the hip hop industry came to town, pot heads united, bringing their lungs and ears for the 2013 lineup of Smoker's Club Tour. I attended the tour back in 2010 and at first I was slightly disappointed that there weren't more major artists on the roster, but the acts were stellar and it was truly a night to remember.

I walked in as Chevy Woods was finishing his set and the crowd was loving his Taylor Gang hits. However, the unsung heroes of the evening were The Underachievers. Performing material from Indigoism as well as their newest mixtape Lords of Flatbush, they possessed such a genuine stage presence and really appealed to the audience by taking song requests and performing what they wanted to hear. Issa Gold was so authentic with his interactions with the crowd and introductions to their songs that it felt like we were all homies in on a listening session. Both rappers were super personable and their performance was one of the highlights of the evening.

Surprisingly, headliner Ab-Soul came out next instead of closing the show. Soulo's performance was simple and effective, a true artist and free of all the gimmicks, he gave an incredible set showcasing his superior lyrical ability and just dope music. His aura and energy was raw and evoked brilliance. I've loved both Longterm Mentality and Control System and he performed tracks from both projects. Closing his set with "Illuminate" featuring his Black Hippy label mate Kendrick Lamar, the long haired, sun glass wearing emcee was outstanding.

Pro Era's Kwon ran onstage and got the crowd hype for the hip hop collective's leading emcee, Joey Bada$$. Still incredibly young and raw and in prep for his studio album debut, Joey was enlightening. The energy he drew from the crowd was unmatched that evening. Kirk Knight, CJ Fly, A La $ole, Dessy Hinds and a few other members joined Joey and even performed some of their new material from upcoming solo projects. Seeing the greatness of Joey live and his ability to command an audience that large was remarkable and made me reflect on youth in hip hop. To this day, Jay Z and Nas' debut albums are my favorites of their discography. There is something so fresh and honest about a young rappers debut and Joey at only eighteen is certainly on the path to a long and successful career with Pro Era no error!

I had the pleasure of meeting the artists after the show and it was interesting to see the maturity of Ab-Soul versus the genuine preservation of childhood with Pro Era. Despite fame and a constant touring schedule, these teenagers are still kids and that innocence was refreshing.

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