Whispers of New York’s triumphant days were figments of the past after 1999. Dubbed the end of the “golden era” the Mecca was placed on the back burner for “gangsta” rap lead by figures such as 50 cent, T.I. and The Diplomats to name a few. Recently within the last 10 years the south has reigned supreme for amongst NY airwaves, but in a day and age where you’re one click away from discovering a dope artist, we have to thank Johnny Shipes for introducing the world to Joey Bada$$!
This album is an ode to New York hip hop in its truest form. From the beat selection to word weaving bars Brooklyn was presented to foreigners. The grittiness, atmospheric gloominess and even moments of loneliness which Joey addresses sporadically throughout the record, basically placing you in the shoes of an 18 – 19 year in search of his purpose in Brooklyn NY.
There is a huge level of growth on “B4Da$$.” Most know Joey for tackling boom bap records, which to a certain degree places him in a box. On tracks like “Escape 120” and “teach me” we hear Joey expand his versatility with more upbeat tunes. House music and hip hop have gone hand in hand since the dawn on time. In a recent interview with Rosenberg, Joey didn’t shy away from addressing why he stepped outside of the box. “With features and collaborations I didn’t want it to be anything people would have expected.” This is a great sign for the future, who knows maybe him and Diplo might shock the world and drop some funk one day.
Lyricism seems to be a dying art form. It’s crazy to even think that honestly, but young Badass showcased why he is an emerging star fighting for his spot in Hip Hop history. On a track like “Paper Trail” produced by DJ Premier, Joey says “I swear these niggas love to copy, thanks for listening. This kid ain’t been the same since Biggie smacked me at my christening” which is a response to Big’s 95 freestyle “Oh my God I’m dropping shit like a pigeon, I hope you’re listening smacking babies at their christening.” A 20 year gap but as relevant as ever now. Then we have tracks like “No.99” & “Christ Conscious” where the punchlines, hidden motifs and his cadence are spot on! I also appreciate the fact that Joey Badass reintroduced the reggae element back into hip hop. Although we have seen Kanye have snippets of reggae vocals on Yeezus, as well as Travis $cott and even features from Movado here and there, but there’s a feeling any Brooklynite can resonate with when you hear Chronixx on a track like “Belly of The Beast.” It reminded out what Biggie did on “Respect” featuring Diana King!
Stand Out Tracks: Save The Childern, Paper Trail, Like Me, Belly of The Beast, Christ Conscious and Black Bettles.
Overall it was a solid debut album from Joey Badass. He’ll continue to grow and get better, not to mention he is one of the few New York artist showcasing what NYC is all about. Now we can gear up for the release of Action Bronson’s album “Mr. Wonderful.”
What did you think of B4Da$$?