On Friday, the University of New Mexico Student Union Building ballrooms were transformed from a drab conference space into an electric concert scene to host rappers Aphelion Barz and J.I.D.
“I thought it was gonna be a little weird, just because I’ve never heard of anything (like this) in the SUB,” said Julian Garcia, who attended the concert.
Aphelion Barz kicked the show off, hyping up the crowd with chants of 5-0-5.
“It was a different crowd, so I enjoyed myself,” Barz said of the audience that was primarily made up of students. Barz is originally from Jamaica, Queens, New York, but also has roots in Albuquerque. He first performed at the University of New Mexico several months ago.
Barz has a sound that blurs the lines between new and old school hip-hop. Some songs were reminiscent of 90s hip-hop, like “All Good,” while others would fit right in with the recently popular trap sound.
As with any opener, the crowd was not exactly jazzed for Barz, despite efforts by him and his DJ to keep the energy up. The set was “not nearly what J.I.D. is gonna be” said attendee Ian Hurkey. Fast-forward through some catchy intermission jams and several chants of J-I-D, the man of the hour finally took the stage.
The crowd was immediately united. J.I.D. estimated there was around 900 people in attendance.
Both he and Barz kept repeating “Make some noise for ya damn self,” a sensitive and innovative way to engage the crowd and give thanks to the audience. J.I.D. commented on how much he appreciated his fans, and that if he could know all the concertgoers’ names, he would chant them back.
Born Destin Route in east Atlanta, J.I.D. is clearly a people person. He graciously introduced his DJ, calling him a great composer, musician and person. He climbed down from the stage several times to get personal with the crowd and to run around slapping hands. After the set, he even took time to sign autographs and take selfies.
J.I.D. stands out as a performer because of his ability to connect with strangers and make a group numbering in the hundreds feel intimate. His musical prowess stands out as well — his signature lightning-fast flow rivals that of any rapper, which was clear from the several verses he spit sans background music.
He also proved that his talents are more than just saying lots of words really fast – he sang an a capella verse in near-perfect pitch and time, and every body movement matched with a musical cue.
The hour-long set ended with his most popular songs, closing with “151 Rum.” The crowd was riled up, and J.I.D. kept encouraging its rowdy center to open up a mosh pit.
“His energy is really beautiful,” said attendee Kyree Posey. “I could just feel where he came from.”
This was true – attendees were likely to leave feeling like they had just found a new friend in J.I.D. An unforgettable performance by a rising star, that will be etched into the memory of UNM for a long time.
Katie Monette is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @KatieMonette9.