As the sun began to set on Saturday, July 27, purple, red and green lights illuminated the graffiti-ridden stage at Cuthbert Amphitheater. Nineties-era rap played for an anxious crowd that chanted in hopes of speeding up the arrival of the Brooklyn, New York rap posse Beast Coast.
It’s been six years since the last Beast Coast tour. During the latter half of the last decade, the 10 member group — consisting of Joey Bada$$, Flatbush Zombies, The Underachievers and Pro Era — has been paving their legacy in the rap world. At the time of their first tour in 2013, the collective was bubbling in the underground rap scene. Since 2013, they have built a cult following for their psychedelic, lyrically-dense and boom-bap inspired music.
On May 24th, Beast Coast dropped their first creative endeavor as an entire group, an album called “Escape From New York.” In order to ring in the new album, the group embarked on a national tour.
The concert kicked off with performances from members of Pro Era doing 15-minute sets. CJ Fly, the first to appear, came running out stage in a full Portland Trail Blazer warm-up suit.
“There’s a lot of good energy in here tonight, and I wanted to represent for y’all,” said Fly, a member of Pro Era since its beginning.
Fly’s Pro Era contemporaries, Nyck Caution and Kirk Knight, took the stage after him. Both performed solo work as well as songs off of their collaborative project, “Nyck at Knight”.
Afterwards, The Underachievers began their set with the song, “Herb Shuttles” — a gritty and bass-heavy track off of their first mixtape, “Indigoism,” that launched them into the underground rap scene.
After the opening performances left the stage, the speakers began to roar from the drop of the 808’s and rattling trap-hi hats on "Escape From New York’s" lead single “Left Hand.” The rappers individually appeared, seemingly from out of nowhere, on the stage as their verse came in. The beat cut abruptly and immediately transitioned into “Distance,” a fan favorite off of the album. Joey Bada$$ opened the song rapping in his suede Kangol bucket hat and thick Cuban-link gold chain. Issa Gold then came running out rapping his hard-hitting and grimy verse.
The entire Beast Coast stood on stage, taking a moment to revel in the crowd's enthusiasm.
“I need this energy tonight. For everyone up on the back hill right now, if you are able to make it down to the pit, I’mma take it personally if you are not down here by the end of the show,” said Meechy Darko after the opening tracks came to an end.
Joey Bada$$ and Flatbush Zombies, the main attractions, held down the stage for much of the concert. They performed mini-sets of their own highlighting their solo work, but never took away from letting other Beast Coast members shine.
“Eugene, I’m not gonna lie, this is probably the best stop on tour so far,” Bada$$ said. “I feel the energy tonight and it’s crazy cause we can’t even do our full set.”
Bada$$ then played his hit song “Devasted,” a heartfelt reflection before his fame where he states “I used to feel so devastated. I times I thought we’d never make it.” The song is his biggest song to date — going platinum in 2018.
Before "Devastated," a stagehand had warned the D.J. that they only had five minutes left. Bada$$ wasn’t ready for the show to end, so he orchestrated a chant to keep the show alive. The crowd's chants grew louder and the rest of Beast Coast walked on stage once again. The D.J. played "Distance" once again, and as the energy filled the amphitheater, Meechy Darko jumped into the crowd and the five-minute warning no longer seemed to exist.
Beast Coast delivered a four-hour long set reminiscent of the music they likely performed on their first tour, while not straying away from new fan favorites. The set list was intentionally designed to deliver an infectious performance — and to bring even the most reluctant guests in the back lawn to the forefront of the venue.