Dreamville rapper Bas brings energy to intimate Vancouver show

Bas, Rexx Life Raj and Innanet James at Fortune Sound Club, 1/16/19

Dreamville Records

Dreamville Records signee and J. Cole protégé Bas kicked off the second leg of his tour Wednesday night at Fortune Sound Club, putting his seriously impressive technical skills on display in the more intimate space.

The ambience at Fortune is always conducive to a great show, the red spotlights bouncing around and creating a warm atmosphere with the stage feeling tantalizingly close. Dreamville merchandise dotted the crowd as fans took advantage of the club setting to actually socialize with each other as they waited.

Innanet James took the stage first with some quirky, off-the-wall bars and a half-melodic flow, but it was Rexx Life Raj that got the crowd appropriately fired up.

Feeling like he stepped straight out of the old-school West Coast rap scene, Raj brought back the boom-bap beats and hilariously blunt lyrics.

Bas immediately elevated things even further when he stepped out to the hard-hitting combo of “Icarus” and “Front Desk” from his latest Milky Way album, displaying a quicker flow than most mainstream rappers but every word still sounding crisp and percussive.

Bas truly has a great live rap voice, hitting every syllable where most of his contemporaries run out of breath, even when yelling his most quotable lines at the top of his voice to the delight of the fans who shouted them back at him.

Before dropping into a set of tracks from his breakout project Too High to Riot, Bas told an engaging story of its creation.

“I got a really nice neighbour now – her name’s Peggy, she show a man love,” he began, recounting an earlier time when some members of the Dreamville crew had moved into a new neighbourhood together and were met with racist comments. Deciding they had to leave, they recorded an entire album beforehand.

Fans seemed to respond more to this segment of Bas’ older material, singing along to the anthemic hook of the poppier “Clouds Never Get Old” before dropping their inhibitions and jumping wildly to the distorted bass and triplet flows of “Housewives.”

Although Bas’ more club-oriented tracks aren’t his greatest strength, the venue proved strangely appropriate, as fans danced to the more familiar beat patterns and repetitive hooks. The chant of “we lit, we lit” in “Spaceships + Rockets” was a fun moment before Bas transitioned into an earlier track, also titled … “Lit.”

The track made for an awkward yet endearing moment when Bas requested for a fan who knew J. Cole’s “Lit” verse by heart to join him on stage.

The first fan didn’t manage to get anything out, seemingly overwhelmed at meeting the rapper up close, and he had to call two more up before one of them managed to hit about half the verse. “That was a team effort!” Bas laughed. “It takes heart to come up here, I respect it.”

Bas finished strong with the hits “Boca Raton” and “Tribe.” Though both tracks boast a big-name feature, Bas definitely held his own without them.

“Boca Raton” was his best performance of the night, and Bas knew it. “Can I take you somewhere more tropic?” he asked.

The fans expended the final remnants of their energy throughout, even during the recording of the absent A$AP Ferg’s verse. A chant of “Bas-sy, Bas-sy” sprung up as he did a celebratory dance.

Despite the late start and relatively short set, Bas brought the energy to Fortune and left fans walking out satisfied.