Topaz Jones releasing ‘Arcade,’ played Baby’s with Noname, Kemba & theMIND (pics)
Noname hails from the same Chicago scene that birthed Chance the Rapper, Mick Jenkins, and Jamila Woods (and she's collaborated with all of them), and last night (10/12) she came to NYC for a sold-out show at Baby's All Right. It was one of Pigeons & Planes' 'No Ceilings' shows and had a stacked lineup all around, with Noname collaborator theMIND opening, and sets by locals Topaz Jones and Kemba, but the crowd was clearly mostly there for her. Most people crowded in and screamed as soon she took the stage, and knew the words to all the songs she played off her debut mixtape Telefone. Noname sounded good, as did her ace band, which included a drummer, a guitarist, and a keyboardist/backup singer. The latter two were also in theMIND's band (but he had a DJ instead of a drummer), and theMIND -- whose style is somewhere between Chance the Rapper and Frank Ocean -- joined Noname on stage for part of her set too.
Even if Noname was the star of the night, Topaz Jones' promising set made it seem like it won't be long til he's a star himself. Topaz hails from Montclair, NJ (and played that recent Montclair showcase with Pinegrove and Half Waif) and he has a sound that's equally rooted in '70s funk and modern-day rap. He can really rap, but he can really sing too. He could dance like a trap-rapper but he could also dance like Michael Jackson. He got the whole crowd singing along to Funkadelic's "(Not Just) Knee Deep" right before going into his own song "Motion Sickness," and the transition was seamless. He also played recent singles "Winona," "Powerball," "Tropicana," and more, and mentioned his album Arcade will be out on October 28.
Kemba, who used to go by YC the Cynic, was celebrating and playing songs off of his first album under his new moniker, Negus. It's his first album since he released 2013's GNK (as YC the Cynic), and it's rooted both in his African ancestry and the unfair treatment of blacks in America (the cover art is a drawing of Tamir Rice). And since Kemba hails from hip hop's birthplace the Bronx, it's no surprise that he had the most classic-style rhymes of everyone on the Baby's show.
Pictures of all four artists at the Baby's show are in the gallery above. Listen to those Topaz Jones singles:
photos by Amanda Hatfield