Joey Bada$$ x The Soul Rebels Dedicate "Hardknock" To Michael Brown Live At Brooklyn Bowl + OKP TV Recap
Joey Bada$$ was just one of the special guests that made the Soul Rebels‘ live showcase at Brooklyn Bowl last weekend an unforgettable experience. After all, our favoritest mic-holding human Jean Grae was there, along with Skyzoo and Torae. And oh yeah, Prodigy of the infamous Mobb Deep came through and the next rhyme he spits might be about you. But unquestionably it was Joey’s Bada$$ onstage dedication of “Hardknock” to Michael Brown, backed by the full power of the Soul Rebels’ brass onslaught that was the absolute highlight of the night. Young Bada$$ was in top form, seemingly moved by the spirit of the moment to discover previously unseen depths of mic control and lung capacity; twice on the audio you can hear his voice crack with raw emotion but his flow never falters for a second as he takes us skillfully from intro to crescendo to quiet conclusion. But it’s something about the way this one-time-only collabo transmutes the Rebels’ sublime brass chords–the same building blocks, let’s remember, of a traditional NOLA funeral march–into a hardknock rap anthem, less a battle cry than a dead-ass serious manifesto for survival in these last days and times, that fully expresses what so many of us are feeling in the wake of another black youth dead at the hand of police.
All the performers involved seem totally aware of the electricity that’s moving around them as they play. As Skyzoo puts it: “Something about when a crowd sees a band onstage…they just turn into something else.” The night may originally have been booked as a simple showcase of great music and the Soul Rebels’ mastery of their particular street-ready craft but as Jean Grae tellingly observed to OKP TV, it became a focal point for music and solidarity for #Ferguson. Or as Bada$$ himself put it: “a golden moment.” We couldn’t agree more. Watch the Michael Brown-dedicated performance of “Hardknock” above and our full OKP TV recap of the night’s proceedings below. And while you watch put two fingers in the air. Now keep ’em there.