Baro kicked off the first leg of his “17/18” national tour at Good God Small Club in Sydney, Australia on Thursday (30th July), before heading out to Fortitude Valley, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Supported by opening acts including 90sRD running mate Marcus and Brisbane’s own Gill Bates, the native Australian rapper was accompanied on stage by his go-to DJ, DJ FET and hype man for the night, NASTY MARS.
Having recently turned the legal age of 18, Baro has achieved more than most in his short time on this Earth; with a year-old debut mixtape HOWGOODISGOOD, being named in Triple J Unearthed High finalists, and even touring with Australian rap stars including Allday, Thundamentals, Remi and Illy. From the amount of work that he’s pushing, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he doesn’t know how to sleep. With releasing his debut EP 17/18, to performing at the renowned Splendour In The Grass Festival, Baro is currently embarking on his national tour and shows no signs of stopping.
“17/18” EP received warm reviews. The jazz infused, blissful, neo-soul production blends perfectly with his nonchalant, almost lazy-but-not-in-a-bad-way flow and catchy hooks. The production was handled by favored collaborators Ancentric, Oiigi & ESESE. In early July, the EP was ranked #9 on hip-hop/rap Australian Apple iTunes chart, not too many spots below Drake’s If You’re Reading this it’s Too Late, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, and A$AP Rocky’s At Long Last A$AP. Pretty good company for an 18 year old from Melbourne that is pioneering a new age in Australian Hip Hop.
The Club, Good God, was dimly lit with a disco ball above head. Smoke surrounded the room which couldn’t have held more than 80 people that night. There was a crowd in front of the stage which as you could imagine consisted of the most turnt-up in the room, jumping around as if the whole front stage consisted of nothing but trampolines and cocaine. Good God also catered for the more laid back Hip Hop fans with indie-styled tables and seat placement with an obligatory bar at the back.
Baro revealed he was feeling “sick,” but you couldn’t notice it in the energy he brought. The flu wasn’t enough to hold the Melbourne rapper from turning into a fire-breathing kangaroo. While it isn’t unusual for an 18 year old to be full of energy, the way that he incorporates and channels the energy is what separates him, enabling the crowd to raising their hands for his spirit bombs that continue to draw the evaluation of Baro being “mature and wise beyond his years” from the content that he produces.
It was only fitting that he started the show off with the first song on 17/18 titled “Grown Ass Man.” You could sense he felt at ease, confident and calm on stage, slowly pacing around, controlling the room. Everyone was engaged from the minute they saw their young star and heard the vibed out beat, singing along with the catchy hook that brought the song back to full circle.
Ima do this for ya, I don’t need helping hands
My mama kept me spoilt
Now her boy is the man, (I love you mama)
Look, I don’t need your handouts
Don’t come here with demands
See, I’m a grown fucking man, I’m a grown fucking man
From the get-go you could see fans all around you being fully invested. DJ FET switched to “Hi,” another smooth beat with a catchy, sing-a-long hook. “Getting high for a reason // theres sharks swimming in the deep end // So baby lets float away // let them catch us // let them catch us.” After the first verse and hook, Baro, feeling the energy of the event said, “fuck that song we ain’t doing the rest of it.” I was impressed with the maturity and instinct the young artist showed, who then chose to elevate the mood of the room with the sudden switch to a more bump along song from his first mixtape titled “Amber.” The jazz infused, J Dilla type beat drew an infectious head nod from the crowd while Baro spits his nonchalant and effortless flow.
“Cigarette” was next. The soulful, piano heavy song from HOWGOODISGOOD carried the same vibe as the previous song. It was obvious a lot of people were digging the music from the first mixtape, but Baro trusted his gut, and decided to get back on track and played “This For You, Fuck Everybody” from 17/18. With a heart-grabbing hook, a slow beat, and love-tied song lyrics, this may sound like your typical “love song.” Be that as it may, I have never seen so much energy and hype come from a romantic song before, the fans were jumping around losing their mind like it was a trap song. It was astounding to see infectious energy transform a somber love song to a song that makes you wild out and toss monopoly money in the air.
Another J Dilla-esque, jazz infused song “Seasons” got the people bumping and singing along to the catchy hook. Baro proved that he is not only a talented rapper, but also has the hook game on lock. The aura of the room changed and it felt more relaxed. All of a sudden the beat cut and he went acapella, totally destroying the room with a lyrical display and wiping any doubt that remained off the grid.
The dark, MF DOOM inspired “See Less” brought in a different type of feel. Bass took control of the room and sent vibrations throughout my spine, my head found itself nodding along without control. It was unbelievable to see his nonchalant flow control the mood as he confidently paced around the stage, getting everyone more hyped as if they all just realized Buzz Aldrin bumped Wu-Tang in rocket ships.
“Go to church real quick, go to church with the new shit.” Baro continued to play an unreleased song “WDUBI,” which featured verses from NASTY MARS and Marcus. It was a catchy Sean Kingston type song that got the fans excited with the idea of new music. The mood switched when the slow, dark and sad “Never Meant To Hurt U” came on. Due to his flu, Baro insisted he couldn’t sing any longer so the crowd would have to take responsibility. I will reiterate this point again but I have never seen an artist turn a sad and slow song like this “This For You, Fuck Everybody” into a hyped up song with the crowd jumping around, singing every word. Baro single-handedly turned the club into a bipolar oasis full of hip hop heads and alcohol.
“I ain’t even front, last time in Sydney was best show on tour.” I have heard rappers say that many times before, but the connection Baro established with us all made me believe it. He was speaking to his generation, as most of the fans were his age or only a few years older and were singing along to every word, jumping around and violently nodding their head to the beat.
Next he played my favorite song of his, “Which u//SHITTER.” The two part song, both featuring jazzy instrumentals, a funky flow that demands head nods and a can’t help but sing-a-long hook had the crowd and especially myself extremely hyped. I loved the transition between the songs. The beat would slow down and the vocals were cut out, fading away to the background while boom bap beats were resurrected, accompanied by Baro’s progressive flow in “SHITTER.” Even though the beat completely changes, the rhythm and melody remains for your body to continue with the flow of the show.
After a quick water break, he continued playing crowd favourites like “Travellin’ Through Time,” a jazzy beat with a hard kick drum that brought it back to maximum hype level. “Travelling through time feeling average//Future holds the past get your ass up in a salad dish // Start eating // And quit fuckin beefin //The only thing that’s needed // The future comes with freedom.” Energy took the room for hostage while the crowd perfectly sang along to the monotone hook.
After the song, Baro thanked us all saying he was hyped and only has been doing this for 12 months. Everything he said was felt with genuine realness and sincerity. “Cellular II” by Marcus ft Baro was going to be spun next and you could tell it was a crowd favorite from the reaction of introductory beat. The feel good, fun and energetic instrumental with the catchy hook “I like the way you roll my weed // I like the way you roll my weed” had the room vibed out to the max. Heads were bumping and arms were waving. Doors were open for 3 and half hours and at that point it was getting close to midnight. Still it was apparent that there was no lack of energy, the room wanting more and more from the one night experience.
To take advantage of the marathon of excitement, Baro formed a mosh pit in front of the stage. He went on to play a high energy, trap inspired song “Resumé.” This is a very different sound to what fans have grown to love from Baro but it surely set it off. Baro didn’t feel that our response was sufficient so he cut the track and pleaded for more hype from the crowd. He demanded that the crowd turned the room up to 100% so we can go home. “Resumé” restarted but this time was met with double the energy. For an introspective rapper, I was impressed by the versatility; from chilled out instrumentals, to rocking a trap song that turned a crowd of hipsters into hoppers.
That marked the end of the show. Baro thanked the crowd and went on his way. After the smoke cleared, there was only a handful of fans left. I stayed behind an extra few minutes to comprehend what I just witnessed. This was the first time that I felt genuinely excited and confident about the future of Australian Hip Hip. One day I dream that Australia can be a Hip Hop powerhouse and Baro is a promising sign for the new era.
Images and Video via Shak Sumra/True Too