As I stumble into my 30s this month I’ve begun to reflect on all of the things I’ve accomplished in the last decade. I was the first person to graduate college on my dad’s side of the family, I was able to work in a field I was passionate about, and I finally moved to the city I wanted to live in for years: Orlando, FL. For a guy who grew up wanting to play in the NBA this isn’t a bad start to life. It pales in comparison to what many people in my generation have accomplished and are doing right now. To see young artists use their platform for more than just personal gain is beautiful and makes everything that I just reflected on seem miniscule. It also makes me want to begin using my platforms to help others in more ways than just supporting their music.
At 22, Joey Bada$$ has created a body of work that many people his age have not done. As he was rising in the music industry, Joey was known for a 90s era of Hip-Hop sound that he brought to the table. Many fans claimed that he was going to bring that classic New York sound back and they were right. His first studio album, B4.DA.$$, was littered with the style of music that fans of 90s Hip-Hop grew up on. Artists keep risks to a minimum between their first and second albums. You will usually hear an extended version of what was popular on their first album while listening to the second one. With ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, Joey shifts gears and caters to those who enjoy today’s sound while making it one of the most socially engaged projects of this decade.
In the same vein of Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, Joey tackles the unjustified killings and treatment of Blacks in the United States and what it’s like to grow up as a young, successful Black man here. A record like ‘For My People’ shows Joey in a caring light, creating music for those who are just doing what they can to live day to day and get by in life. “I don’t want to be good n***a, I want to be great” he rhymes in the opening verse, a sentiment that many young adults share on their quest to success. AABA does an excellent job of showcasing this viewpoint of what it is to be a Black American. The production is soulful on “Temptation” as Joey comes face to face with his vices due to the stresses of prejudice from the color of his skin.
“Tell me how we gonna make a living, hustler on the block who gonna save the children?…when I feel this way inhale the Swisher” – Joey Badass on ’Temptation’
ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ certainly deserves praise for its stance and subject matter. However, Joey attempts to make records that sound like some of his fellow New Yorkers on this album. ‘Devasted’ feels like the red-headed step-child to A$AP Rocky’s ‘L$D’ and ‘Ring The Alarm’ embodies the soul of a Mobb Deep record that was left on the cutting room floor. The former is still a good song but it’s hard to not hear Rocky’s record when you go back and listen to it again. Aside from the features on ‘Ring The Alarm’, the remaining guests do their part to enhance each record with ScHoolboy Q proving once again why he’s one of the best doing it on ‘Rockabye Baby’.
We live in an era where people use their platforms for various things rather than social justice. Everyone is entitled to do what they want with what they have; it’s just disheartening when you see big platforms only using their voice for negativity. I have to applaud Joey BadA$$ for two things with ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. I said in the past that he was pigeonholing himself while he was trying to replicate the 90s sound that helped him rise to fame. He proved that he’s able to make catchy music while not sacrificing lyrical content, something that is hard to do when labels get involved. The second thing is how cohesive this album is with its message. Joey Bada$$ addresses topics that affect the Black community in a way that spreads awareness and helps shine a light on it to his fanbase. The only thing left to see is if his fans, and anyone who listened, will help do anything to change the status quo.
Repeatable: ‘Temptation’, ‘Devastated’, ‘Rockabye Baby’ feat. ScHoolboy Q, ‘Amerikkkan Idol’
Skippable: ‘Ring The Alarm’
By Joe Coad