Music Review: Joey Bada$$’s
Artist: Joey Bada$$ (Badass)
Album: ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$
Released: April 7, 2017
Label: Pro Era
Producer: Joey Badass, Jonny Shipes, 1-900, Chuck Strangers, DJ Khalil, Jake Bowman, Kirk Knight, Like, Powers Pleasant, Statik Selektah
Collaborators: ScHoolboy Q, Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight, Meechy Darko, Styles P, Chronixx, J. Cole
The term “All-American” has typically a positive connotation associated with it. It’s usually used to describe something or someone who is the embodiment of all great things associated with America. However, artist Joey Bada$$ (Badass) flips the term on its head, replacing the C with three K’s, referring to the Ku Klux Klan. Joey does this to indicate certain topics he discusses on this album, including racism, and other social and political issues. Joey Bada$$ is a New York area rapper with an already impressive resume in the hip-hop industry. Joey is only recently 22-years-old and has already released three mixtapes and two studio albums. His newest album titled “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” was released on April 7, 2017.
What sets Joey apart from his counterparts is his style of “conscious” rap. Joey’s music usually has a higher message and theme to it than the stereotypical rap music focused around sex, drugs, money, and women. In “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” Joey sticks to his roots as a conscious rapper.
From the get-go Joey tackles social and political issues in today’s society. The opening track “GOOD MORNING AMERIKKKA” has Joey present the question, “What’s freedom to you?” Joey reflects on how African-Americans haven’t been given the same rights throughout history and even more recently within the last few decades.
He also touches on the police brutality incidents and the media’s distorted treatment of killings, saying, “The Coppers still shoot us down on Channel Five news” and also, “Wishin’ all these dirty cops would come clean” on the song “FOR MY PEOPLE.” In just the first two songs Joey makes it abundantly clear that his music, and this album, is meant to send a message and also raise questions about moral ambiguities and hypocrisies in modern American society. Joey describes music as a form of expression and says that he uses his music to teach a lesson: his microphone is a weapon. With his weapon Joey states that he is, “Surpassin’ the expectancy of my life in my direction” to elude to the fact that his message in his songs is far different from the stereotypical rap songs. Perhaps his strongest message on the album comes on the last track “AMERIKKKAN IDOL.” Towards the end of this record Joey states that he believes the government is trying to start a “Civil War” amongst the people, mainly blacks and whites, and pushing the people to their limits. Joey states, “They want us to rebel, so that it makes it easier for them to kill us and put us in jails.” Joey uses this to segway into his call for action: that we as a people stand up and fight for human rights. He asks the listener to rebel and raise hell, but be cautious about it because of his belief in the government’s plan.
“They literally beggin’ for this to happen, so they can kill us off. Usin’ uprisin’ and rebellion as the excuse in a timely fashion. The cancerous foods, the chemical warfare, economic sufferin’ is not workin’ fast enough.”
This song dives much deeper into Joey’s thoughts, and it’s perfectly blended together with Joey’s top-tier lyricism and wordplay.
Even though this album is chock-full of Joey’s thoughts on racism, government, and freedom, it doesn’t take away from this album’s musical aspect as a hip-hop record. Joey has received critical-acclaim because his music reflects an “old-school” feel reminiscent of the 80’s and 90’s era of hip-hop where lyricism and wordplay ruled supreme. Along with that, the musical production on the album is very-well put together. Songs like “TEMPTATION,” “DEVASTATED,” and “FOR MY PEOPLE” features slower, more rhythmic beats that pair well with Joey’s smooth delivery over the tracks. Songs like “ROCKABYE BABY,” and “RING THE ALARM” feature an old-school “boom bap” instrumental while also giving the listener some nice bass to enhance the experience. Those tracks also include some fun features by ScHoolboy Q, Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight, and Meechy Darko.
Overall Joey Bada$$ creates a record that tackles themes and ideas and leaves it up to the listener to listen and think about the questions being brought up. This isn’t an album full of “bangers” or songs to get rowdy to; instead, I would consider it a thinking-person’s album, and a very good one at that. If you’ve never listened to Joey before his mixtapes are available online as well as his first studio album “B4.DA.$$” which can be found on iTunes or anywhere else. If you’re a hip-hop fan who typically likes more fast-paced in your face songs with wild beats this probably isn’t an album for you. This album lends itself to being digested and thought over and really implores the listener to pay careful attention to every verse being spit. It’s Joey’s best product yet and will remain a favorite for quite some time.
Review by Nick Fields