On his second studio album All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, Joey Bada$$ shows the world what it means to be a patriot. Having already delayed the album once, he looked at this as an opportunity to pen an open letter to America. Frustration and angst are certainly part of the equation, but as a reflection of his maturity he handles it with a sound mind, never letting one single emotion consume the album. That’s not to say that he doesn’t let loose either, he certainly does. But what’s different and what ultimately separates himself from his peers, is that he sees that there is more than one way to initiate change.
The beats are well curated too, no question a nod to the golden-era, but still lively in its own right, equal parts boom-bap, R&B and trap. The balance allows for Joey Bada$$ to explore the many different phases of his creative evolution, at times sounding more comfortable singing than rapping. It’s uncharted territory for him, but a step he’s willing to take. He expresses anger, resentment and vulnerability, speaking directly to the heart of his fans. Its his most honest effort yet, this generation’s Illmatic.
A soulful sounding of the alarm, the wake up call rap has been looking for. Over a simple chorus of hand claps, Joey B. desperately tries to awaken the masses from their century long slumber. Instead of preaching on a pulpit high above the congregation, he’s speaking on everyman terms, asking the listeners to explore their own thoughts. He’s hoping the answers will slowly awaken their inner-god: [LISTEN]
Like the Bob Vila of rap, he takes a well worn structure and makes it new again. The snapping boom-baps are deep fried, as crispy as a bag of tortilla chips. The majesty of it lights a fire under his feet, and motivates him to pen a piece for his community. The beauty is that it is a message that anyone can get behind, inspiring in ways that make compassion and empathy a top priority: [LISTEN]
The strong r&b elements challenge him in ways like never before. Most lyricist would fumble under such circumstances, but he thrives; the new terrain offering a fresh view on life. By embracing simple melodies, he’s able to introduce a more complex range of emotions into his narratives. He’s looking to inspire, and is starting with himself; all in hopes of changing the world: [LISTEN]
Delivering the truth straight to the gut, a body shot that puts one man’s angst into razor sharp focus. Unlike other decrees, this one addresses a multitude of fallacies including ones perpetrated by the people themselves. The beat is a light, airy biscuit with enough butter on it to make any verse sound slick. He’s in no hurry, slowly pouring out wisdom like maple syrup over flapjacks.
Taking a break from politicking, Joey B. opens up his personal file; divulging some of his deepest insecurities. For most rappers vulnerability is taboo, but this is his way of showing that there’s always an upside so long as you’re willing to work for it. Nothing has come easy, and every ounce of success has been earned. Fans only get to see the rewards, not the work it takes to get there: [LISTEN]
Forthright and honest, even when he’s getting dogged. The soundscape is dark and full of uncertainty, capturing the mixed motions that come with living in a place like America. This is his chance to ask questions and wonder aloud why the country that is supposed to embody freedom and understanding is treating him like a tyrant. He’s confused and hurt, and this is the sound of him finding his way: [LISTEN]
A roaring fire from the mouth of a dragon, a Wolverine claw thrust into the chest of a Sentinel. Up until this point he has been calm, cool and collected, now he’s letting the filter go and charging like a rhino. Schoolboy Q might have something to do with it, another rebel with fury and courage on his side. Together they make a formidable duo, corrupt America’s nightmare incarnate: [LISTEN]
In the mainstream, the art of lyricism has all but vanished; leaving the land unprotected from predators. As a child of the golden-era, Joey B. reps hard, mercilessly slashing and burning away the fruitless trees that have polluted the land. Some see it as needless aggression, but every competitor knows that to step into the cypher is to get your will tested; the sound of a lion roaring: [LISTEN]
Silky spun raps from the lyrical don. Premier himself couldn’t have crafted a more telling beat, a jazz-laden sound carnival with all the tasty trimmings. As a whole it tells the story of a young rap superstar trying to make his way through the jungle. He’s always being hunted, but is savvy enough to have learned from the forefathers. With insight as his guide he maneuvers like a stealthy jaguar: [LISTEN]
The lion roars again, this time with the help of his ancestors. The anger is simmering, carbonating his blood to the point of rage. Everywhere he turns he sees injustice aimed at his people, and he now finds himself stuck in the lamb-lion paradox. Peace is at his core, and it is what he is striving for. But to achieve it he feels compelled to act, to rage against the powers that be: [LISTEN]
Two lyrical eagles spread their wings. They soar with the type of majesty that only comes with discipline and commitment. A dedication to the craft that shows in every verse. Joey B. moves forward like a tank, and he isn’t shy about repping his pedigree; a believer that his gift was handed down by the gods. He carries the title well, and is willing to defend it against all challengers: [LISTEN]
Like a seasoned academic he begins and ends his paper with his thesis. Sandwiching the body of his work with his main idea helps leave a lasting impression, and similar to how he started, he ends with a firm declaration. The celebrity worship is proving to be a heavy burden, but he’s using it as an opportunity to enlighten the masses. It’s more about civic duty than getting rich and famous: [LISTEN]