Meme culture is hard to explain. There is not a great way to define it, and that is kind of the point. Whether its easy to understand or not, memes are the defining marketing strategy of the modern internet age. Irony and non sequitur humor are just the tip of the iceberg, but are a decent start to comprehending such an enigma. Many artists in the underground and mainstream have embraced memes to grow their brand, and some artists could be considered a meme within themselves. One such embracer of the absurd internet culture of today is bbno$. Pronounced Baby No Money, the rapper has found incredible success with his artistry, with his biggest song “Lalala” garnering over 250 million views on YouTube to date. Bbno$, like many artists, also does shows, and is touring around the country, stopping in Washington D.C. to perform at Union Stage on March 3, 2020.
First to the stage was Swerzie, who much of the audience had not heard of. However, Swerzie has been making a few waves in the underground with his brand of distorted, dark trap music. After a few songs, the rapper’s energy won the crowd over, though not without some hard work on the stage. Swerzie jumped and bounced around, each time with more energy than the last, and the crowd started to respond. However, soon after the crowd finally responded to him, Swerzie’s time was about up, and the next opener was ready to go.
The second and last opener was Lentra, a producer for bbno$, and artist in his own right as well. This slightly longer set had the audience on its side for pretty much the whole set, perhaps due to name recognition, or the style being more in line with what the crowd was expecting that evening. Sporting a Bernie 2020 shirt on Super Tuesday, the Canadian sung and rapped a few songs before leaving the stage and changing outfits, however, retaining the Bernie shirt. He also brought out rapper Jungle Bobby for a few songs, which got the crowd very hyped and ready for the headlining set.
After a very short break, bbno$ finally took the stage. Bb performed a medley of songs from his discography, and the crowd knew nearly every word. The energy of the audience stayed high throughout the set. The fully packed venue jumped and screamed to each song, and bbno$ shared in the energy as well. He called for pits to be made, audiences to make noise, put their hands up, etc., to which the audience always complied. While performing some of his many songs with rapper Yung Gravy, The Vancouver native also brought on a fan, Eli, to do Gravy’s parts, which Eli absolutely nailed.
Toward the end of the show, bbno$ teased that he was about to play his biggest song, “Lalala,” but instead transitioned into a rendition of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” essentially Rick Rolling the audience. The audience laughed it off, and sang along to Astley’s enduring 80s hit. After a verse, bb performed the actual song, to which the audience screamed along every single lyric. With the show almost over, there was one tradition that bbno$ teased throughout the show that needed to be completed. At every show, apparently bbno$ gives out a cookbook, and this time it was deservedly awarded to audience member Eli, who sang along with bbno$ for three songs flawlessly.
Despite bbno$’s incredibly short career so far, essentially only starting in 2018, and notching his big hit just last year, bbno$ has built up a dedicated fan base of internet savvy young people. It will be very difficult to reach the heights of “Lalala” again, but few artists make it there in general. As long as Bbno$ keeps his sense of humor about him, and continues to make solid tracks, there is no reason bb cannot continue to see success.