Hours after highly publicized clashes in Virginia between white nationalists and citizens who oppose them, two rappers known for their candid examinations of race in America performed at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence.
The concert featuring Logic, an artist from Maryland with a mantra of “peace, love and positivity,” and Joey Badass, a New York emcee who is promoting an album titled “All Amerikkkan Badass,” acted as a sanctuary from strife rather than as a forum to directly address the day’s disturbing events.
Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, the 27-year-old who performs as Logic, is one of the most popular rappers of the last three years. His success irritates detractors who correctly accuse Hall of being corny. Saturday’s concert benefited from Hall’s mawkish tendencies. The good-natured man led the audience of several thousand in a chant of “I’m special” after telling them that his music is intended as “something that’s going to make you think about and reevaluate your life”
During a rendition of his biggest hit, “1-800-273-8255,” an inspirational song about suicide prevention, he encouraged anyone suffering from “mental health (issues), anxiety or depression” to seek help.
He’s touring in support of his third studio album, “Everybody,” a project that focuses on Hall’s racial identity. He rapped that “I’m just as white as that Mona Lisa/I’m just as black as my cousin Keisha/I’m biracial, so bye Felicia” on a celebratory rendition of “Black SpiderMan.” On “AfricAryan,” Hall noted that “my beautiful black brothers and sisters want to act like I’m adopted.”
Hall explained that he used these challenges as inspiration to hone his talent. Although he didn’t attempt to conceal that some of his vocals weren’t live during songs including “Killing Spree,” he demonstrated his impeccable flow throughout a headlining set that lasted almost two hours.
The presence of a four-piece backing band was a mixed blessing. While they locked into several pleasing grooves including an excellent smooth jazz workout on “Like Whoa,” the musicians and members of the stage crew inspired Hall to make hokey jokes and engage in ridiculous routines. The most displeasing gimmick was a tedious video game dual that was displayed on the banks of screens behind the stage.
Admirably outspoken on his recordings, Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott, the rapper better known as Joey Badass, was curiously subdued during his 30-minute outing. Aside from a perfunctory denunciation of racism, Scott stuck to a script that included suggesting that he intended to initiate “iconic moments.” Unfortunately, he didn’t do or say much worth remembering on Saturday.