The Road to New Orleans with Joey Bada$$ and the Soul Rebels
Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014. Less than a week later, Joey Bada$$ (@jozifbadmon) found himself on stage in New York City, paying tribute to a man whose death was still being processed, debated and fought over.
“A lot of crazy things have been happening this week and I just want to dedicate this song to Mr. Michael Brown. Rest in peace,” said Joey, with two fingers raised in the air, before launching into a blistering, energetic rendition of his track “Hardknock.”
“This is a situation we find ourselves in — trapped in America every day.” It’s now a year later, and the 20-year-old Brooklyn rapper is reflecting on that impromptu tribute and the events that followed. “This is nothing new to me,” he adds. “I already have the music that speaks on these issues.”
That night was a unique one for Joey — not least because of the situation in Missouri, but also for who he was playing his music with: The Soul Rebels, an eight-piece brass band from New Orleans known for their blend of jazz, funk, soul and hip-hop. Joey doesn’t typically perform with a live band, but something about the Rebels struck a chord. That’s why, later this week, he will collaborate with the group once again, this time for a show on their turf, at the 2015 Voodoo Festival. Before the concert, Joey will be sharing photos from the road leading up to the event via the #BadassTourDiary hashtag.
“I can’t remember how it got set up, but they were having a show in Brooklyn and they just invited me,” says Joey, of his first encounter with the group. “I came through and our chemistry right away was amazing.”
The show is at the tale end of what has been a banner year for the rapper. After releasing his debut studio record, B4.DA.$$, in January to critical acclaim, he set off on a worldwide tour, hitting the United States, Europe and Japan — all while letting his friend, photographer @deeknows, document his life on the road: Joey diving off the stage into the crowd, Joey seeking a quiet corner to write lyrics, Joey hanging out backstage.
“We pretty much document our experiences all the time,” he says. “I just try to capture all my moments as best I can. I usually don’t like cameras in my face, but when it’s [Dee’s], I am super comfortable.”
Comfort is just as important to Joey on stage — which is what led him to another Soul Rebels collaboration. He knew from that night a year ago, when the band took his lead on the Michael Brown tribute, that this group was on to something. Now they’re going to try it again — but don’t expect Joey to tell you what will happen ahead of time.
“I always tell people you shouldn’t expect things, you should accept it,” he says. “When you’re expecting something from me, you’re never gonna get what you expect. Fans can just accept life that day and enjoy the show.”
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