This past Sunday night J.I.D, EarthGang and a multitude of other artists performed for the moshing, passionate hip-hop heads of Santa Barbara on the Never Had Sh!t Tour. With the amalgamation of softer songs such as “All Bad” and the gritty, upbeat “NEVER,” J.I.D’s album The Never Story successfully exemplifies all elements of a well-rounded hip-hop album. The Atlanta rapper managed to grab the crowd’s attention with his resonating messages and welcoming stage presence at Velvet Jones.
From Atlanta, Georgia, both EarthGang and J.I.D were recently signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records, attracting a widespread fanbase despite only recently reaching a level of fame. Although it was a late Sunday night, fans were lined up for over an hour around the perimeter of Velvet Jones, anxiously waiting to watch the various performers leading up to J.I.D.
The collaborative performance of Venus and Doc, better known as EarthGang, had the crowd’s adrenaline rushing as they called for the audience to make room for mosh pits, jumping in to crowd surf. Doc appeared on stage in his signature ski mask and Venus wore a shirt representing their new project Robots as they performed their most popular songs, many from the album Stray with Rabies. Toward the end of their part, they brought up four fans to the stage and asked them to dance to their fast-paced rapping, continuing to interact with their audience by extending their arms and jumping onto the railing of the stage.
Following EarthGang, J.I.D entered the stage performing his latest album’s opener, “Doo Wop,” as the crowd rejoiced after heavily anticipating his arrival, chanting the lyrics along with him. His overall production was very intimate with the audience as he explained between songs that everyone should be thankful for what they have, that he came from a difficult background with his brother incarcerated and was influenced negatively by his peers. He also encouraged everyone to follow their dreams and to do what inspires them as he demonstrated by leaving college to pursue music.
The Never Story includes an interesting combination of different aspects of hip hop that makes it distinct from other albums. J.I.D. smoothly transitioned from comical cuts such as “EdEddnEddy” and “Underwear” to fast-paced, hard-hitting tracks. Thunderous song “NEVER” had the audience chaotically bumping into each other, whereas “Hereditary” possessed a more R&B-influenced sound that had the crowd swaying. On a different note, “All Bad” displayed J.I.D’s true singing skills with his soft voice and riffs at the end of his words, that, combined with Mereba’s musical talent, made for a harmonic fusion of voices.
Second-year economics major Christine Kim was very impressed by J.I.D’s stage presence, explaining, “The energy that the rapper had completely transferred onto their crowd.”
Throughout the night, it was very easy to connect with the performers as the small venue welcomed closeness and the performers frequently stopped to talk to the audience about their beliefs. J.I.D explained, “This is a dream come true, I appreciate you all. I hope that something resonates with you tonight. It’s not about turning up or being sad and shit. It’s about expanding yourself and taking something home.” He continues to say, “You can turn the fuck up, go crazy, but listen, too, because it’s fucking valuable for all of us.”
J.I.D followed by performing an acoustic freestyle, not lifting his voice for even a mere second. The audience was cheering him on, encouraging his long rap and appreciating his lyrical genius.
As the spectators relentlessly awaited the next song, J.I.D called up Earthgang onto the stage to perform their collaboration “D/Vision.” Each rapper took their turn belting out the lyrics to their verse while riding on the rapid energy of the fans, who remained energetic despite the long night of hip-hop and dancing.
J.I.D finally concluded his performance by bringing up all his openers, such as Mereba, Lute, Chaz French and EarthGang, to join him for the final song, “NEVER,” the single he dropped before releasing the full album and undoubtedly his most popular song to date. The audience was in havoc as he stood on the railing of the stage while rapping, the security even holding on to the back of his shirt ensuring he wouldn’t fall off stage.
As the song ended and the crowd was still moshing, people were cheering in deep appreciation of the immensely talented group of people all standing on stage in conjunction. On tour together, Mereba, Lute, Chaz French, EarthGang and J.I.D took up the small stage as a family, representing the Never Had Sh!t Tour and Dreamville Records with confidence and love for each other and their fans.