Brooklyn’s very own Joey Bada$$ along with his Pro Era crew have been an immense force in the boom-bap revival of New York City. Along with other young acts like Flatbush Zombies and the Underachievers, the rappers have brought new attention to what the collective has called the “Beast Coast.”
Joey Bada$$ rose to fame after he released videos of himself free styling on YouTube as well as gaining recognition after being featured on World Star Hip Hop, which resulted in the rapper gaining a manager. Bada$$ promptly released his debut mixtape “1999” in 2012 to underground and critical praise.
Three years later, Bada$$ released his first commercial album titled “B4.DA. $$,” a continuation of the New York boom-bap style he and his Pro Era contemporaries gained notoriety for. The album was a solid addition and a satisfactory commercial start to his career.
While Joey Bada$$’s latest album, “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$,” still evokes much of New York during the golden age of hip hop, it is clear that Joey is moving away from being just a revivalists. This Joey Bada$$ is more versatile than we have seen him before, and the rapper is just as outspoken as ever.
Joey Bada$$’s latest album, “All-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” addresses the disparity between the white and Black racial experience in America and the irony that comes with a country that calls itself “The Land of the Free,” which just so happens to be a song title on this album.
The track itself features a laid-back bass groove with dust-covered sounding drums as Joey Bada$$ channels his inner 2Pac and embodies the late rapper’s social consciousness and flow as he speaks on matters of the Black experience in America. Here, Joey speaks to the reality of carrying a slave master’s last name and Obama’s presidency doing little to ease the minds of the Black community.
“Rockabye Baby” is by far the grittiest track on the album and features ScHoolboy Q who delivers one of his most hard-hitting guest spots to date. The song serves as an upfront protest to the new Trump era of politics and Joey Bada$$ spends no time mincing words here. While the hook is a little lackluster, the song is one of the strongest moments on the album.
The next track, “Ring the Alarm,” is a sort of posse cut featuring Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight and Meechy Darko who are all accompanied by a beat that sounds like it was ripped straight out of a horror movie. The haunting beat along with industrial drums accompanies the group as they trade off between verses.
While “ALL-AMERIKKAN BADA$$” is true to Joey Bada$$’s form of discussing societal issues and injustice, there is a few instances where the rapper plays around with a more pop-heavy production on the songs “Devastated” and “Temptation.” The former sounds like it could be on a TV and the latter features a soul-filled rhythm that would be found on a summer nights playlist.
Should you listen? Yes!
Joey Bada$$ has proven himself to be a socially-conscious rapper with budding pop sensibilities and a staying power in a lot of indie circuits. There is enough boom-bap to keep fans happy, some heavy cuts and a few tracks that could potentially broaden the rapper’s appeal to a wider audience. “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” is a worthy stepping stone in Joey Bada$$’s career.
Collegian reporter James Wyatt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jwwyatt2295.