Sunday night (July 8), Brooklyn’s Pro Era kept Capital STEEZ’s memory alive with the fourth annual STEEZ Day Festival. At New York City’s Central Park, along with Pro Era, rappers like MadeInTYO, Dirty Sanchez, Aaron Rose, Dessy Hinds, among others paid homage to the founding member of Pro Era, who died by suicide in 2012.
The sun beamed down on Central Park as the DJ entertained the crowd by spinning classics records like A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario” and Eric B. and Rakim’s “Paid in Full.” But the millennial concertgoers weren’t activated until the DJ spinned Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares.”
The hip-hop spectacle, which offered hope to deal with mental illness, commenced with a charged-up performance by Dessy Hinds, who ran through his street single “Savior.” Pro Era’s CJ Fly, who announced that he’s working on an album with Statik Selektah, warmed the crowd with a Pro Era throwback performance of “Hardknock,” a song from Joey Bada$$’ 1999 album, which recently turned six years old.
It’s official my first project #1999 is now available on ALL streaming platforms! Link in bio! Today marks 6 years since I came into this game and dropped this masterpiece. So excited to finally get it up on DSP’s. Happy #1999Day! Comment below with your favorite songs & memories from listening to this album. Biglove ❤️ new Music on the way! #PROERARECORDS
A post shared by joZif BADMON [💰💰] (@joeybadass) on
As the Mary Jane settled into the systems of fans, Nyck Caution, decked in a white t-shirt and black joggers, stormed the stage to thundering applause. The Disguise the Limit rapper spit verses from “Off the Wall,” and “All Night.”
The nimble ryhmeslinger bounced around stage like a lively point guard, even diving into the mosh pit to perform for the rowdy concertgoers and losing a shoe in the process. Caution’s set was highlighted by his performance of “Out of Reach,” a song he wrote after receiving the unfortunate news about STEEZ’s death. Central Park grew quiet as Caution rapped:
“But I promise that a suicide don’t ever make it simplify/And I remember like it’s yesterday/Its the coldest winter evening when that text message escalate/Like we don’t even know his whereabouts/And yo that twitter got some crazy shit, it’s something that we scared about/I tried to call buthe was distant/And I ain’t even seen him since the Stussy shirt drop/But PEEP started poppin’ and the Era lookin’ brighter than it ever did/But somethings changing, everything was so unsettling/Coming up within the month you started proving everybody your intelligence.”
After a moment of silence, Caution’s partner-in- rhyme Kirk Knight eagerly sprung onstage. Wearing a white t-shirt and jeans, Knight jumped into “Wake Up,” a song from Nyck @ Knight, a joint album with Caution. Knight took part in the mosh pit spectacle, too, by crowd surfing in the middle of his set.
Never got easier and the void of you missing is tremendous, try my best to carry the vision out even got it tatted on my flesh. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about what could’ve been but this all wouldn’t be possible without you bro, happy bornday wherever you are #LONGLIVESTEELO
A post shared by Cautionnn’ (@nyckcaution) on
The clock inched toward 8 pm, the sun dropped below the horizon, and concertgoers’ mental went from buzzed to high, and Mick Jenkins, Jay Critch, and The Underachievers, who shouted out XXXTentcion, performed solid sets.
A hometown crowd saved plenty of praise for NYC’s own Flatbush Zombies crew and Joey Bada$$, whose assaults on stage provided the evening’s climax.
Group member Erick The Architect being confined to a wheelchair didn’t stop the Flatbush Zombies’ energy, as the trio had the crowd throwing elbows and bouncing around to songs like “Headstone,” “Victory,” and “Vacation” from their latest offering Vacation in Hell.
Joey Bad$$ closed out the night. With a American flag, made of red and blue bandanas, hanging behind him, Joey offered the hope for the future with for those battling mental health with his performance of gripping songs “Devastated,” “Land of the Free,” and “For my People,” songs from All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$.
Overall, STEEZ Day served as a reminder that mental health should be at the forefront of our daily lives. With STEEZ’ death, JAY Z’s and Royce da 5’9″‘s counseling confessions, and Logic’s engrossing songs “1-800-237-8255″ and “Anziety,” it looks hip-hop is beginning to wrap its mind around the seriousness of the mental.