Amazon Music Gathers NYC Hip
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Amazon Music Gathers NYC Hip

Jul 29, 2023

Amazon Music’s 50 & Forever Concert Series emanated in Brooklyn on Thursday (July 20). A brick wall outside of the venue was decorated with graffiti, a subway stop was renamed the “50 & Forever Station,” and hundreds of people gathered on the Pier 17 rooftop to celebrate 50 years of Hip-Hop.

Attendees oozed with excitement as the “Blog Era”-themed lineup consisted of Curren$y, Joey Bada$$, and Wale—major players during that significant shift when fans flooded the internet to discover new projects. These three have withstood the test of time and provided several classics in the process, so it was only right that they got this moment to celebrate and be celebrated on that cool evening.

The DJs provided the ideal runway for the trio of acts, spinning blog-era classics like A$AP Rocky’s “Peso” and Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin” with Drake and French Montana. They also showed they’re well aware of what’s hot right now, spinning Sexyy Red’s “Pound Town,” Lola Brooke’s “Don’t Play With It,” and Byron Messia’s “Talibans.” The drinks were flowing and the vibes were high.

Curren$y opened the Hip-Hop celebration with his signature smoked-out sound, performing cuts that made him a “Blog Era” legend. Rocking a New York Giants Lawrence Taylor jersey, the New Orleans emcee tackled his set with a stoned-out ferocity. Spitta seemingly levitated on smoke clouds as he performed fan-favorites like “Breakfast” and “Famous” from his Pilot Talk I mixtape. His newfound OG status shined through more recent cuts like the Alchemist-produced “Half Moon Mornings” from their Continuance album. But the Southern rhymer couldn’t end his set without an ode to New Orleans bounce, launching into the Jermaine Dupri-assisted “Essence Fest.”. Spitta performed another cut, “Off the Lot,” from his and JD’s For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1, before disappearing into a heavy cloud of smoke. “Much love New York, y’all always f**ked with me, I’ma continue to f**k with y’all. Hip-Hop forever.”

Joey Bada$$ was at home, literally and figuratively, during Amazon’s Hip-Hop commemoration. Badmon came through draped in a customized New York Yankees jersey, complete with a matching Yankee fitted. The Brooklynite hit the stage hot, with his DJ, Powers Pleasant, shooting a barrage of the rapper’s most spun tracks. Records like “The REV3NGE,” Where I Belong,” and the Westside Gunn ad-libbed “Brand New 9/11” brought both classic and modern NYC rap vibes to the party. But Pro Era’s finest struck a chord with the sold-out crowd when he blew the dust off of 2017’s “Love Is Only A Feeling.” After honoring a “gorgeous” Black couple in the crowd, Badmon admired the ladies in the audience before performing the Men I Trust-sampled “Show Me How.” “New York ladies in the house make some noise. Look, y’all got a real chill vibe, and I ain’t even mad at that; NYC got the best ladies in the world.” As he ended his set with chart-traveling hit, “Devastated,” Joey Bada$$ spread love the Brooklyn way and set the stage up perfectly for the night’s headliner: Wale.

Wale hasn’t tweeted since June 28, 2022. He hasn’t shared an Instagram grid post since April 28, 2022. His Instagram story, which was mostly barren over the last year, was loaded with promotions leading up to the Thursday (July 20) concert. One slide in particular read “Where he been at ???” As a once-active social media user, his absence was notable and a cause of concern for many. His performance on this evening wasn’t his first since the hiatus, as he appeared at Leimert Park’s Juneteenth Festival, but this performance on the rooftop of Pier 17 still felt like a true return. Maybe it was because he took the stage in New York City in celebration of Hip-Hop’s 50th anniversary.

The DMV native’s set was packed with hits. Wale got the women moving from the onset with “Clappers” and followed that up with “Chain Music.” Minutes later, he took the time to speak about how much he has given to the culture. The Folarin II artist took pride in how many radio hits he has created before getting into the SZA-assisted “Need To Know.” In true humorous Wale fashion, he encouraged the Black people in the crowd to lead the way as he transitioned into a cover of Musiq Soulchild’s “Just Friends.”

Later on, he tested how well people knew his mixtape catalog by performing “The Breakup Song.” His timing was too spot-on in shouting out Keke Palmer before performing “The Matrimony.” He closed his set with a final speech about how people tried to limit him to go-go music, and then tried to box him into Hip-Hop, only for him to make “Lotus Flower Bomb.” “They said I can’t do everything, so what you think I’m about to do?” Wale asked. This set seemed as enjoyable for him as it was for the attendees and an appropriate way to celebrate his contributions to Hip-Hop over the last almost two decades.

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