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[Review] Joey Bada$$ @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 08/01/2023

Sunday night was a buzz on Flinders Street as hundreds of fans lined up around the block into Hozier lane for New York’s Joey Bada$$ and his epic show at Melbourne’s classic Forum Theatre. Making his grand return to Australia for the first time in a few years, the Brooklyn native is known for his infamous rise to fame in 2012 with his self-released, no major label mixtape 1999, and a string of fantastic albums to follow, as well as being a co-founder of hip-hop group Pro Era. Releasing 1999 at just 17 years old, he made waves with his lyricism well beyond his age and skill behind the microphone. This tour, the 1999-2000 tour, represents a celebration of 10 years of the debut record, along with promoting the brand-new sequel record, 2000, released in 2022. The hype was real.

Opening the show was South Sydney rapper, Gomeroi man and master storyteller Kobie Dee. At only 25 years old, Dee covers a lifetime of narrative. Focusing in on his home and community of Maroubra, Kobie Dee highlighted the issues of mental illness, drug abuse and youth suicide, discussing the importance of conversation and removing stigma from the subjects. He took time to pay tribute to lost loved ones, and to celebrate what they stood for. But as well, Kobie Dee brought the party, and brought it hard. Fan favourites such as This Life and Basics were anthems, with the whole crowd bouncing and singing along for the full 30-minute tight set. Kobie Dee represents the future of Aussie conscious hip hop and predicts high hopes for storytelling through music.

Next up was Powers Pleasant. Producer, DJ and Pro Era alumni, Powers brought the bangers. Over the years I have seen a lot of hip hop warmup DJs, but man, this was the hottest 25 minutes of heat I’ve ever seen before a rap set. Powers Pleasant toured us through quick edits of Denzel Curry, Freddie Gibbs, Kid Cudi, Lil Uzi Vert, Kendrick Lamar and even Nirvana with crazy fun transitions to match. The crowd was pretty much on fire by the time the set ended and the main act began.

Joining Powers on stage, Joey Bada$$ hit the stage just before 10pm, opening with the fan favourite and classic track of his debut, Survival Tactics. The classic chant of “Fuck The Police” was cleverly contrasted with the red and blue stage lights, setting the scene for a night of rebellious rap.

Not missing a word except to wave the mic at the audience for their support, Joey blew through classic after classic before addressing the crowd for the first time. Taking his time to bask in the love of the crowd Joey Bada$$ thanked us for our ongoing love and support, told us he was here for the day ones all the way to the new fans, instilling the further duality of the tour title, a reflection on the decade of music and the ongoing relationship with his fans. The connection of conscious rap, politically charged lyricism and a romantic edge penetrated the consciousness of all in the room.

Joey also took his time to pay tribute to hip hop legends we’ve lost in recent years, including King Von, Nipsey Hussle and the ever-controversial XXXTENTACION. Many hip hop shows have a moment such as this, where they look back on those fallen, but Joey’s was more than just a grab at tragedy, but instead a thought provoking moment of pain for friends gone. The ongoing issue of gun violence in the US is not a taboo topic to Joey Bada$$, and often enters his music as he is more than familiar with its sting.

The crowd was bouncing the whole night. It was clear that these fans knew their material, with every song a sing-along, every chorus a chant. The mosh was heavy and hard, but the energy was positive, with those falling being picked up to re-join the party. A perfect blend of love and anger, triumph and pain, joy and rage.

Highlights of the night’s set included Head High, Make Me Feel, Paper Trail$ and the chart-topper TEMPTATION which for me was the best of the show. Joey wasn’t satisfied to end on that track though, and despite the Forum’s strict curfew, he chose to “risk the fine” and play one more song because he’s Joey Fucking Bada$$, the crowd chanted. Ending the show with the banger DEVESTATED, the fans were left sweaty, messy but satisfied from a night of dope hip-hop and awesome music.

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[Review] Aminé @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 06/01/2023

On the 6th of January the beloved Forum Theatre welcomed in thousands of excited faces, eagerly awaiting for Aminé to hit the stage. Advancing into the foyer like an army of loyal troops, it was clear that Aminé fanbase was strong- united in their love for his intoxicating presence, and quirky persona. There was, however, one fan who was quite new to the scene, and uncertain of what to expect. This fan was me. I knew of Aminé, and of course was familiar with Caroline, the song that catapulted him to commercial recognition. However, it is safe to say, that my musical pallet surrounding alternative hip hop and rap was…rather dry. So, as I entered the Forum and took my spot amongst the buzzing crowd, I hoped and prayed that I might leave the show a little quenched.

And boy did I.

Starting off the night, Dj Classic warmed up the crowd with a classic game of call and response. Within a few minutes, strangers were acting like best mates, and it was clear that this pre show entertainment was there to lay the ground rules for the night: go wild, dance, but do it all as one. Following Dj Classic, B Wise took to the stage. I was majorly impressed with his ability to take the audience’s growing energy, and send it into the stratosphere. With songs like Who?! and Won’t Stop, B Wise demonstrated his slick lyrics and insatiable beats with incredible prowess; all the while maintaining a sense of gratitude and connection with his audience. With his concerted effort to look directly at his crowd, and his constant reminder to befriend and look after one another, B Wise felt like an artist at the top of his game, as well as a close and trusted friend. My favourite moment was when he took a moment to acknowledge his Nigerian roots before performing Ezzina, a song that oozed funk, heart, and soul. Side note: I still can’t get that guitar riff out of my head!

By this point in the night, the crowd of newly formed friends were as prepped as they could be for Aminé‘s entrance. So, when that moment came, and aminé danced his way onto the stage, the wild cheers was exactly what I was expecting. Kick starting his set with Mad Funny Freestyle, Aminé’s kooky lyrics and hilarious wordplay were accompanied by spectacular visuals that were as creative and dynamic as his rapping. Between Aminé‘s commitment to jumping around the stage, and the backdrop of neon coloured lights that featured garish yellows and hot pinks, it felt like we were witnessing the inside of Aminé‘s brain: an explosion of absurdity and playfulness. From start to finish, the Forum stage transported itself into a visual exploration of Aminé‘s creative genius; one where we got to witness his bouncy melodies, giddy synth, and hyper pop influence come to life.


It’s one thing to bop along to Charmander in the car. It’s another thing to experience it in a sold out venue, where it’s infectious energy and fast paced flow had me feeling so carefree that I almost felt weightless. What I also loved about Aminé‘s was the variety in his performance. Just when you thought the night might become one dizzying mosh, he’d bring us back down to earth with performances like shine that highlighted his slower melodies and more delicate, vulnerable vocals. I was particularly impressed with his falsetto in Shine and the smooth, glitzy guitar in the background. Aminé‘s musical confidence really showed itself through his ability to hook the crowd. Whether it was through a sugar rush state of energy, or a more reflective, down to earth moment, the crowd was there to drink in every moment and savor every minute. Finishing off the night with a consecutive performance of Spice girl, Caroline, and Reel It In, these three crowd pleaser songs provided a climactic high point that left the audience in a state of total appreciation and bliss. I left the Forum feeling more connected to hip hop and rap than ever before, and I have Aminé and his generous fans to thank for that. All in all, it was certainly a night well spent, and I cannot wait to see what craziness Aminé conjures up next. 

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