Twenty-two year old, Joey Bada$$, has already made headway in the rap industry by reviving a sub-genre in hip-hop that many consumers and critics had long thought was dead.
Bada$$ released his first mixtape, “1999,” at 16 years old which displayed his rare talent over the mic. He produced gritty rhymes with complex rhyme schemes. The album was influenced by 90’s New York hip-hop, as his beats were all boom-bap, a prominent rap style at the time.
Though he showed skill, the issue that “1999,” as well as his follow-up mixtape “Summer Knights,” have is that Bada$$ spends the album just spitting over beats. He was unable to make great songs consistently, although there were more well put together songs with proper structure on “Summer Knights.” Growth was evident, even if it was not completely worth sitting through the 17 tracks.
Despite the flaws of his first two projects, they brought Bada$$’s name more popularity and people began to take notice. He grew through social media and word of mouth. Spearheading a return of the classic hip hop, he also reached out to grab the attention of listeners of this generation.
Cinematic Music Group released his debut full-length album, B4.DA.$$, in 2015. Though not perfect, it was vastly improved over his first two mixtapes. He sharpened his skills and was able show his improving his sense of his identity as an artist. Throughout the album there are songs with clear concepts and focus. Bada$$ does a great job balancing the album with his tracklisting.
The main problem with this album is there is no clear central theme. Nothing really connects all of the tracks other than the person on the mic. It does not have to be a coherent narrative, but generally the listener desires a common theme throughout the tracks. Also some of the beats are a bit too sleepy and could’ve used a more upbeat tempo.
Bada$$’s newest album, “All-Amerikkkan Bada$$”, is slated to be released April 7th, 2017. The album is 12 tracks long and features J.Cole, Schoolboy Q, Styles P, Meechy Darko, Chronixx, and Nyck Caution.
The hope for this album is that Bada$$ will put all the pieces together and meet his potential. He has already released three singles, “Land of the Free,” “Devastated,” and “Rockabye Baby.”
“Devastated” is about a personal battle Bada$$ endured growing up. It is a “we made it” anthem. The chorus is catchy and the vocals are surprisingly melodic. The verses are fine but are not what drives the song. The refrain and the chorus are the attraction. It is a great motivational song. It would have been nice to get a more in depth and personal set of bars from him on the verses. Bada$$’s vocals are pretty standard for this type of song, but it is still a solid track.
“Land of the Free” is a politically charged song about double standards, racism, classism, and the flawed election process. The song is compelling. It opens with a layered low pitch of soft coos. The sound is smooth and captures the listener’s attention immediately. When the beat kicks in, it has funky guitar notes that follow bass knocks. The lyrics are thought provoking, as well. The way Bada$$ flows from idea to idea is natural. The song plays out in the last minute with buttery smooth instrumentals applying the layered vocals similar to the beginning of the song, along with slowed down bass knocks that bring the track to tremendous close.
The most recent single released is “Rockabye Baby” featuring a guest verse from Schoolboy Q. The song has an instrumental that is looped throughout the track and a repeated piano sample that sounds hellish along with the heavy bass. Bada$$ is angry and his lyrics portray a man who is trying to incite a movement among the people he is representing.
In his eyes, his warring people have a common enemy, and he wants them to come together. Q’s verse buffers everything that Bada$$ is saying. The chorus is menacing and repeats the title of the song over and over. His vocals are dark, raspy and angry. The song is extremely catchy and has powerful verses and a strong message, almost a warning.
The album cover and track titles lend to the hope that this album has a central connecting theme running throughout. People should be keeping their eye out for Joey Bada$$. With this project, he is on the verge of something special.
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