Add another Joey to the list of legendary MCs, and this one’s from Brooklyn the home of some of the most iconic MCs to ever touch a microphone. Joey Bada$$ is actually first generation Brooklyn as his heritage is all connected to St Lucia in the Caribbean, yet in ‘95 he was born in East Flatbush and later raised in Bed Stuy, where among childhood friends CJ Fly, Powers Pleasant, and Capital Steez they formed their crew known as the Progressive Era.
Today Pro Era is one of the most recognizable rap crews throughout the surrounding areas of New York, and amongst new members and in the memory of the late Capital Steez, Joey Bada$$ has become one of the most respected names in Hip Hop period. Truthfully speaking however Joey’s starpower didn’t happen overnight, as although his debut mixtape 1999 was met to critical acclaim, in the remaining years he was pegged as underground 90’s rapper whose talent was marginal and ceiling was relatively low. Yet what could never be questioned were the lyrics, and realistically it was only a matter of time that the production and the music would all come together.
Thankfully for Hip Hop that time is now and the wait is no longer, as Joey Bada$$ just released his sophomore project and it’s honestly unprecedented how good it really is.
Truth be told however I’d rather let Joey tell it, thus ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ is critiqued track by track below.
GOOD MORNING AMERIKKKA
“Now, what's freedom to you? Let’s talk about it, take a minute, think it through” Produced by DJ Khalil this is a nice introduction to the album as it’s sets the tone for Joey’s views on Amerikkka, and all the fallacies within it.
FOR MY PEOPLE
“It's for my people, tryin to stay alive and just stay peaceful, so hard to survive a world so lethal, who will take a stand and be our hero, for my people” Produced again by the LA based DJ Khalil, along this time with NYC artist/producer Adam Pallin, this is one of the best Hip Hop records of the year thanks to good lyrics, melody, and production, where this was that next level for Joey and he finally reached it - Joey Bada$$ is officially top tier.
“And I really can’t take it no more, I be fighting temptations, my Lord, I'm making them restless (And I really can't help it), I never felt selfish before, I've been living so reckless, I know, tell me Lord can you help me? (I said Lord can you help me?)” Produced again by Adam Pallin along this time with Pro Era’s Kirk Knight, this record is both relatable and inspiring while melodically it’s not only one of the best records of the year, but it’s also likely the best Joey Bada$$ record to date. This is the perfect format for Joey’s style and delivery and we need more where this came from.
LAND OF THE FREE
“Sometimes I speak and I feel like it ain't my words, like I'm just a vessel channeling inside this universe, I feel my ancestors arrested inside of me, it's like they want me to shoot my chance and change society” The first single off the album (produced again by Pallin & Knight) is a political record that touches on it all, and for good measure it was released on Donald Trump’s inauguration day making it’s message all the more significant. Joey’s lyrics from this are incredibly profound and are borderline groundbreaking with moments like "in the land of the free it's for the free loaders, leave us dead in the street to be their organ donors, they disorganized my people made us all loners, still got the last names... of our slave owners…" incredibly powerful and another candidate for record of the year.
“I used to feel so devastated, at times I thought we'd never make it, but now we on our way to greatness (greatness, greatness), and all that ever took was patience” Produced by Pallin, Knight, and Powers Pleasant this was actually premiered at Coachella in early 2016, and could more or less be thought of as a promo single that’s ultimately a good record and a solid album cut.
Y U DON’T LOVE ME (MISS AMERIKKKA)
“Why you can't recognize my stride, always gotta minimize my pride, always gonna criticize my moods, I can't make one mistake, it's no room” On this record Joey further describes the plight of a Black man living in White Amerikkka, a country where even the current President legitimately has business ties with affiliates of the KKK, which as far as government is concerned is actually an off & on, yet long standing relationship throughout history. The United States of America, though still a nation with great potential, has certainly earned itself it’s reputation of immorality and corruption in every single way - and this courageous young MC definitely has a right to make note of it. Musically this one’s produced by Adam Pallin & Powers Pleasant and through the verses is reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s Opposites Attract, ultimately another standout on the album.
ROCKABYE BABY ft SchoolBoy Q
“Aww, damn am I going too far? Give you some flavor to borrow, bitch yeah it came with the car, it's off-white, leveled the hard, you ball, might come with a charge, your kids don't know you no more….” Schoolboy definitely has a distinct flow to his name but ultimately this isn’t a record I’d recommend. I’d call this filler but if your Schoolboy fan then press play.
RING THE ALARM ft Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight & Meechy Darko
“Death before dishonor, I die for my brethren, this is a stick-up, Ocean's 47, ring the alarm, if a war you want to get in, ring the alarm if a war you want to get in” A Pro Era posse cut and even though it’s filler I’m not mad at this… it is what it’s supposed to be.
SUPER PREDATOR FT STYLES P
“Super predator, filthy AmeriKKKa, burn the newspapers and the editors, my dead presidents ain't dead enough, blew a zip to the head, still ain't red enough” The Ghost blesses this mean instrumental produced by Statik Selektah, and Joey is definitely in his bag as well. The title of the record is in reference to one of many phrases coined by America’s justice system, an institution that too often has dehumanized young black men and women in the name of ✌️protecting and serving ✌️
BABYLON ft Chronixxx
“Gone like the wind, I can't seem to win, I know the end is near, but I just don't know when, turn on to CNN, look at what I see again, it's another black man, died at the white hand of justice, to tell the truth, man, I'm fuckin' disgusted, I fear for the lives, for my sisters, my brothers” More truth from the 22 year old visionary over more stellar production from Adam Pallin, who’s this time accompanied by Like from Pac Div and the music compliments the lyrics perfectly.
LEGENDARY ft J Cole
“the weight of my wealth, is honestly a lot to bear, I play the game of stacking knowing that I ought to share, how much does a man need? How much can he hoard before it’s greed? How can a rich father teach humbleness to his seed? Just questions, the stubborn all get taught tough lessons, I look at all I got like "what's missing?" 💎💎💎 from Fayettnam’s finest who blessed Brooklyn’s own Joey Bada$$ with a solid 16 that’s not easy for MCs to come by. Cole doesn’t work with just anybody, yet instead is meticulously selective and it says a lot that he appears on this album, where ultimately over Statik Selektah production this is another standout on the project.
“I'm out for, dead presidents that represent me, dead fucking presidents that represent me, I'm out for dead presidents that represent me, because I've never known a live one that represent me” 🔥🔥🔥 so many 💎💎💎 “It's time to even the score, cause who do we call when the police break the law?” 💎💎💎and all FACTS “What the government is doing amongst our people is downright evil, disturbing, but not surprising that's for certain”... great closure to the album... Joey Bada$$ has officially arrived…
Man this album is nothing short of incredible, as from start to finish there’s really not a bad record on here, and even more notable is that there’s about 5 or 6 legitimate candidates for record of the year. Essentially at 22 years young the Brooklyn MC is growing and finding himself as an artist right in front of our eyes, as he was always nice but he’s on another level with this one, and if can continue this moving forward then he’ll soon be mentioned in Top 5 conversations without question. In the meantime this is an incredible body of work that deserves more acknowledgment than today’s social media world is ready to give it, and only years later will this album likely get the respect it deserves.