One of Hip Hop's young up and coming rappers is politically charged, Brooklyn based, Joey Bada$$ who made his name with a 90s inspired debut "B4.Da.$$" at the age of 19 back in 2015. Now a little older he putts a firm foot forward aiming to make a bold, relevant fiery statement while modernizing his sound, distancing himself from a strictly retroactive approach. A solid production and a daring album title, with the tipple k, sets the stage for a comparable likeness to America's most wanted, Ice Cube. The question is does it live up to ambitious persona?
In short, it does, much like a young O'Shea Jackson, Joey gets real and radical in a wild way, inciting acts of genocide by the American government against his color, race and his people. As a listener with an older head, it is easy to sympathize and understand his perspective however the complex reality of influences from social, economic and political systems feel glossed over in the raps as Joey pursues a much more simplistic and radical world view, with a lot of thoughtful commentary too. He also provides little answers or solutions and so the record takes on a rather nihilistic and self defeatist vibe which I think speaks volumes as a reflection held on the attitudes and feelings of the most unheard and underrepresented in society.
Diving into the lyrics is a journey of its own but Joey's flow is dynamic and varied enough to carry the record through its motions, switching gears from easy going spoken raps to hyped, pacey delivery with some dialectic inflections too. Taking a step back from the words, the record starts with a rather summery, fun group of tracks, promoting positive vibes with very welcoming hooks and choruses despite the heavy topics. It culminates with the uplifting "Devastated" a banging Trap influenced poppy track with catchy lyrics and a lick of auto-tune which sounds great being used subtly.
The second half takes on a leaner, slick, dark and diverse sound as Joey brings in guests on each the tracks with hard hitting instrumentals and the weight of heightened aggression. Joey takes the last track on his own, delivering an alarmingly paranoid and despairing message to end the record on a very vivid note. For all its components the record doesn't quiet solidify in my mind, the topics often misaligned with the instrumental vibes despite both being quality. Its a record that has a very loud and bold statement when the instrumentals are moody and charming. Thinking back to "Amerikkka's Most Wanted", the anger, ferocity and energy of Cube's raps where right in-sync with the bomb squads explosive beats.