Joey Bada$$, a 24-year-old rap star from Brooklyn, has gone from prodigy to veteran standout. (Photo by Danny Acosta)

The hip-hop super group landed in Mountain View to showcase their boundary-pushing introspective lyricism.

Joey Bada$$ and the Flatbush Zombies are not the first hip-hop acts to let the world know about Flatbush, Brooklyn, but for the majority of the last decade, they’ve been carrying the torch for their hometown’s hip-hop legacy.

Bada$$ rose to national prominence in his teens around 2012, while the Flatbush Zombies were also proving prodigious, performing their first show and landing on the soundtrack for hip-hop legend RZA’s feature film, The Man with the Iron Fists, all in that same year. Along with Bada$$’s Pro Era crew, and more Flatbush neighborhood grads, the emcee duo The Underachievers, Bada$$ and the Flatbush Zombies took a page from RZA’s Wu-Tang Clan business model and launched their hip-hop super group—Beast Coast.

In 2013, Beast Coast embarked on their first tour and have been expanding their imprint ever since. The Flatbush Zombies’ 2016 inaugural album 3001: A Laced Odyssey debuted at no. 10 on the Billboard charts. Later, they kicked off the tour for their second album, 2018’s Vacation in Hell, with a coveted spot at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival. Yet, it’s Bada$$ that remains the Beast Coast standout. His second studio record, 2017’s All-Amerikkan Badass received best album acclaim from Complex and HipHopDX. He’s also fulfilled a childhood dream of acting too, sharing the screen with Rami Malek on USA Network’s hit show Mr. Robot in a re-occurring role, and now plays Inspectah Deck on the Hulu bio-drama Wu-Tang: An American Saga.

Enter Beast Coast at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on Sunday night. The collective hit the Bay Area on the early stretch of their North American summer tour in support of the first official Beast Coast album, the aptly titled Escape from New York. It’s was a formal introduction for acts that individually needed no introduction to hip-hop heads.

Clockwise from top: Joey Bada$$ floats himself and his rhymes as a headliner; Issa Gold of The Underachievers duo jumps around going back and forth with Joey Bada$$ during the Beast Coast set; Meechy Darko of the Flatbush Zombies relishes the rockstar production values for the Beast Coast collective, flying around the stage; Erick Arc Elliot is one third of fan-favorite emcees Flatbush Zombies and produces their music too. (Photos by Danny Acosta)

Beast Coast are too big for club shows and not yet selling out arenas, but the scene at Shoreline solidified them as veterans in their prime, not to mention a supergroup with rockstar stage rigging: attached to aerial harnesses they rapped from on high 20-feet in the air, flipping around upside down and sky walking above the crowd.

It might appear to be growing pains that the venue wasn’t packed to the brim (Shoreline’s entire lawn section was closed off) though in reality the tour reflects an investment in their growth in which they are braving the in-betweens. As Bada$$ noted at one point, those in attendance will tell their kids and grandkids about seeing Beast Coast — a coast to coast movement 10-plus years in the making with designs for the decades to come.

The crowd’s youthful energy filled the seats at the Amphitheatre, and they stayed on their feet between Beast Coast original tracks, Joey Bada$$ solo songs, Flatbush Zombies hits, never-before-heard cuts from both, and consistent verses interjected from The Underachievers and Pro Era.

Clockwise from top left: AKTHESAVIOR of The Underachievers; Zombie Juice of FZ; Kirk Knight of Pro Era; CJ Fly (left, foreground) of Pro Era with Meechy Darko (background). (Photos by Danny Acosta)

Even the downtempo or conscious tracks from Bada$$’s All-Amerikkan Badass held the crowd, their lighters and cell phones lighting up the venue. Between Bada$$’s “Devastated” & “Rockabye Baby” (reflecting current sociopolitical temperament) to the Zombies’ signature introspections on life and death across their music catalog, Beast Coast demonstrated a range that conveys their staying power.

All told, Beast Coast intersects traditional East Coast hip-hop as well as other genres they’ve ushered in to a new generation, such as alternative and psychedelic hip-hop. Bada$$ and the Flatbush Zombies have kept pace with the prolific output required to resonate these days, yet their concerted, crafted albums invite serious consideration towards their contributions to elevating hip-hop.

Despite an already thorough history, Beast Coast displayed a new beginning at Shoreline on Sunday night, paving the bridge from their breakthrough early days and shotgun veteran status to potential rarefied legendary air ahead.

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Danny Acosta

100% Mexellence. Filmmaker. Writer. Photographer. www.dannyacosta.net

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