Pro Era’s STEEZ Day Festival crossed coasts and took place in Los Angeles this year, honoring their late member Capital STEEZ’s life with a night of great music. Despite the event taking place on the west coast, the east coast collective quickly sold out the venue, showing the reach that Pro Era and the late Capital STEEZ have with fans across the world. The roster of performers for the night was filled with notable names in hiphop who signed on to show their support. In addition to the Pro Era crew, the one night festival included energetic performances from the likes of Hodgy Beats, Raury, Danny Brown, A$AP Mob and Ab-Soul (amongst others). With all of the proceeds for the night going to STEEZ’s family, the vibes of the night remained positive to celebrate STEEZ’s life and his lasting legacy. We thought it would be best to have a couple of Pro Era members talk about the festival themselves, so we linked up backstage with Kirk Knight and Joey Bada$$ to discuss STEEZ Day and his significance to the crew. We also went on to talk with Joey about his sense of responsibility in providing messages to today’s youth and using his platform for necessary positive change in today’s societal climate. Check out what they have to say below and be on the lookout for another epic STEEZ Day Festival next year.
Can you talk a little about the STEEZ Day Festival and what you’re trying to capture?
KIRK KNIGHT: The day is about how many people STEEZ touched with his lyrics, all coming together to one place to celebrate his life because at the end of the day when a person dies you’re not supposed to just sit around feeling sorry, you’re supposed to celebrate their life. It’s just the fact of seeing how much people really understand STEEZ’s lyrics and how it changed lives; everyone should celebrate it. No matter the amount of times you hear his music it’s like damn... you still hear something new. In my honest opinion if STEEZ was still alive he’d be a really big competitor in today’s game, especially with the decline of thought and lyricism today. Just off the strength of that, why not celebrate this guy’s legacy that was ended so abruptly?
JOEY BADA$$: Yeah, you know the whole point of STEEZ Day is to continue my big bro’s legacy and to respect the awareness of his message across the world. We’re very thankful we could bring it across the country and still get like such a heavy impact and response from people.
You know the concert sold out in less than 2 days and this is the second annual STEEZ Day?
KK: Yeah, but if you’re a real fan then this is the 3rd one because we had one in Prospect Park, but like, it wasn’t really a show. It was just some family shit for everyone to come together to a place where we liked to chill at and vibe with our fans.
So it’s definitely an annual thing that you guys want to grow?
KK: Yeah it’s getting bigger and more people are coming and the proceeds go to STEEZ’s family. STEEZ’s family is downstairs right now. His mom is downstairs, it’s just a beautiful moment.
JB: Yeah we do this every year on his birthday, 7/7. Happy birthday to my big bro and yeah we going to keep this going until the end of time.
Can you discuss the importance of STEEZ to Pro Era?
KK: STEEZ he built the logo, he built the name and structure. Even how he trained us to rap and the lessons that he would give us. For example, Joey and STEEZ would go hand in hand. I knew Joey from middle school and he was like yo let’s do this music shit and [he] put me on to the dream. I learned lessons from both of them and seeing how they moved with self-confidence and self-worth, it makes you gain those same qualities to break free of what you might think is possible. He’s everything at the end of the day. He’d be the one to tap you on the shoulder and be like, “Just know if you don’t have a 16 ready, know that you’re foldin’.” He made you want to get your shit up and hustle.
JB: Every group of people has this type of person that is like a conductor in their circle. STEEZ is definitely our conductor, he set us on the right direction. He put our train on the path and was like we going this way, you feel me? He helped the crew and helped everyone hop on the train, you know the way he recruited me. He trusted in me to start leading the train and from that day I just made sure that I held it down for him and everything I do is to make him proud.
The lineup is crazy, was everyone down to support off the jump?
KK: Yeah, everyone’s just down to support. Shout out to the A$AP boys, they understand. Ab-Soul, he understands. People have their own losses in their immediate life so they understand like how it can crush a whole movement and vibe.
JB: Off the jump, off the strength. Nobody got paid or nothing. It’s just pure love. These are my brothers so we just trade the favors back and forth. They did this for me, I’m a do Danny Day for [Danny Brown] when that comes up and that’s just how we rock. Same thing with Rocky and them; you know I did Yams Day. It’s just a brotherly bond.
KK: Exactly. Those are my brother's men, everyone on this billing is my brothers.
Knowing what you know now about the industry, what would you tell the youth who are trying to get into music?
JB: Just sharpen your blade everyday man and just be very observant, once you do get an entry into the game. You know when I was coming up I was oblivious to a lot of shit and I wish I paid more attention and I wish I solidified more relationships earlier in my career. You know I’m good now, I get it now, but that would be my advice to the youth and you know anyone coming into this game.
I’ve noticed even more of a message in your music lately. Do you feel a responsibility to bring a positive message through your music?
JB: Yeah, I mean not all the time, but overall my message is always positive. I do feel a certain responsibility because I feel like I am one of the last hopes and I feel like for my age and what I represent I can be a voice of my generation and a voice of the unheard people from where I come from. So every day, I do feel that responsibility and I take it with strides. It is pretty heavy at times, but it’s not one that I’m bummed about. This is what I want to do. I want to spread positivity. I want to motivate and inspire the youth to do better and my people to do better.
Yeah, I saw your recent Instagram post on the tragic police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile that happened this week too. Respect for speaking up and publicly voicing your opinion.
JB: I think it’s important that people with platforms and voices step up at this time and speak about it because people really listen to us and our messages really go far. You know, I never met you and you’ve seen what I said, so that’s something right there. Imagine if people at Jay’s level stands up, people like Oprah stand up. It would be a really huge impact and it’s that time, because we need justice. Honestly, it won’t be the evil people that destroy this world it will be the people that sit back and do nothing.