ALBUM REVIEW: Joey Bada$$ – All-Amerikkkan Bada$$
Joey Bada$$ bursted onto the scene in 2012, and immediately drew comparisons to New York legends such as Jay-Z and Biggie Smalls, with his authentically smooth hip hop. His music feels almost nostalgic and his debut was an ultimate throwback to albums such as Illmatic. Bada$$ is holding the torch for hip hop right now, alongside King Kendrick Lamar.
This is the second studio album from Joey and a sophomore LP that is out to prove the Pro Era prodigy’s growth and maturity, and with “All Amerikkkan Bada$$” Jozif Badmon does exactly that. There’s no more dusty old-school beats for instance, there’s hardly any scratches either (with the exception of Ring The Alarm) with this LP there’s a distinct feeling that Joey is trying to embark on a brand new, refined journey.
(image courtesy of Hip Hop Wiki)
It’s not easy to top one of the best mixtape ever released (1999) and one hell of a debut full length (B4.DA.$$) but Joey Bada$$ is back with his second full length and it’s a scorcher. This is an album for the people, as suggested by second track. It tackles racism, police brutality and Donald Trump – topics that are relevant for the entirety of America and the rest of the world right now, more than ever. This is an extremely important record, it is a historical record that comes as the absolute pinnacle of the New Yorker’s career.
Joey definitely had something to prove, off the back of his previous releases, and it’s evident after listening to the album back to back thoroughly that he took this into consideration when making the record. His debut album was seen as a revival of the golden-age and All-Amerikkkan Badass brings that approach to the here and the now. Furiously political and lyrically modest, Joey is on fire consistently throughout the entire record – firing shots left, right and centre. The shadow of Donald Trump hangs heavy over the album, and Joey works to shoot at everything he represents through the course of the album.
(image courtesy of The Source)
Good Morning Amerikkka starts the album with a bang, evoking thoughts of those GTA radio stations we all know and love. This is one for car rides in the sun, with the volume on full and the wind in your hair. It’s glimmering instrumentals are clearly influenced by early 2000s RnB beats and Joey’s upbeat vocal delivery and fast paced rhymes shine bright as always.
The opener flows seamlessly into For My People, one of many album highlights for me. This track really sets the tone for the record, indicating what is to come. The punchy drums in this one are so infectious that you can’t help but nod your head like you did when you’d sit in your room bumping Eminem when you were young.
Stripped back, stand out track Rockabye Baby sees Joey battling bar for bar with Schoolboy Q, a clear reference to the old school booth spitting side of hip hop. The track sees Joey at his most fiery, as he exclaims: “If you ‘bout this revolution please stand up, we ain’t got no one to trust, time is running up feel the burn in my gut, and if you got the guts scream ‘f*** Donald Trump”. This track is a call for arms, as Joey directly orders a revolution.
Temptation sees Joey taking a chance at singing “I never felt selfish before, I been living so reckless I know, tell me Lord can you help me” rings Joey on the chorus, in a very Kendrick Lamar manner.
The album takes a brilliant turn of events throughout the second half, with the inclusion of high-profile guest spots from J Cole and Meechy Darko (of Flatbush Zombies) on Legendary and Ring The Alarm. The featuring of these two artists, takes the grit and authenticity of the record a step further. The reggae intwined Babylon sees Chronixx absolutely slaughter the state of America, accompanied by a powerful instrumental.
The whole message comes together on closing track Amerikkkan Idol, where Joey really REALLY lets loose:
“It is time to rebel, better yet, raise hell. I just want everyone to be cautious about how they go about it. Because this is all a part of the government’s plan they been plotting. Literally begging for this to happen, so they can kill us off, using uprising and rebellion as the excuse in a timely fashion.”
Joey Bada$$’ second offering, takes what he created with his debut album, to the next level with an unpenetrable drive of focus. It’s as honest as can be, cuts no corners and shows no signs of mercy. Joey possesses a voice that all need to hear, a voice that deserves to be heard. This album is for everyone, Bada$$ makes the words, that sit on all of our lips, crystal clear and that is exactly what makes the album so special. – he speaks for a generation fuelled by hatred. This is empowerment, upheld by a friendly, mainstream, appealing sound; with several elements of jazz and contemporary production thrown in the mix.
As a whole the album, flows very well. I didn’t once find myself hovering over the skip button – this collection of music is definitely Joey’s best work thus far by a million miles, I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it and hope you will too.
Be sure to check this album out, all hail Joey Bada$$!
Words by Ben Davies