“Ring the Alarm!!” ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ has officially arrived. Joey Bada$$, the 22-year-old Brooklyn wordsmith’s sophomore effort comes as the long-awaited, highly-anticipated follow-up to his stellar January 2015 debut, B4.Da.$$. His debut dropped on his 20th birthday; now having just turned 22, it’s amazing to think about all that Joey has done.
In June of 2012 at just 17 years of age, the young MC released his first mixtape, 1999. With flow for days, incredibly witty wordplay and double entendres, Joey’s skill made people pay attention. But it wasn’t just his pure rapping ability that delighted hip-hop heads across the nation, it was the production he was rapping over. This tape contained classic beats from all-time greats MF Doom, J-Dilla, Lord Finesse and Statik Selektah, but even the original production had an old-school flavor. Where would this kid from Brooklyn go from here? Would he fulfill all that potential?
We could continue the story, writing about how his second mixtape, Summer Knights, dropped in late 2013. How it too contained production from legends like The Alchemist, Oddisee and even DJ Premier. We could touch on his debut album, B4.Da.$$, a giant step in the young lyricist’s career. It was a consistent display of conscious rap throughout the whole opus, which hadn’t really been a focus of Joey’s on his prior projects. Fans were appeased, and through the success of his mixtapes, debut album and singles like “Devastated,”(just went gold! Congrats, Joey!) and “Land of the Free,” and “Rockabye Baby (ft. ScHoolboy Q),” hype and anticipation for ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ were sky-high.
Joey had proven to this point that he can be a conscious and socially aware rapper, but this album delves a step further; away from personal and more toward the collective consciousness, both socially and politically. The content of this album is largely centered around the mistreatment of African-American’s currently and historically. In a recent interview with Ebro Darden on Beats 1 Radio, Joey expressed that the deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin helped inspire the album’s content:
“I just started feeling responsible. The real side of me, just the human side of me was feeling connected to it cause I felt so close to it. The musician side of me started feeling responsible, and not responsible for what was happening, but responsible on how we can change it, how we could bring more awareness to certain situations. This project, it’s about my experience as a black man in America, but it’s not just my experience. It’s your experience. Our brothers. I just felt like I was responsible for making this music and delivering this message. Me having the power that I have which is my voice, I’m gonna do all that I can to use that voice for good, that power for good.”
Now while the ultimate message Joey wanted to express is one of hope and optimism, there are points throughout the project where he delivers the real, harsh truths, those that aren’t always positive. There is no clearer instance of this than on the outro “AMERIKKKAN IDOL.” Joey has a lot to say, it’s a call to action that doesn’t necessarily culminate with an expression of positivity.
In this same interview with Ebro Joey also spoke in light of the album’s production. Stating that “all of the music on this album is like, we really made from scratch, from the ground up, like you know with my direction, I orchestrated it. I put this musician with this musician, paired them together and I told them where to go.” Later speaking on the topic of making music with live instruments, Joey says, “I’ve always wanted to create music like this… but I didn’t have all the resources. I’ve just now accessed the resources with this album, I learned how to do it, so now we on.”
You can hear the glorious instrumentation from top to bottom on this album. One of my favorite cuts “Temptation” produced by 1-900 and Kirk Knight has blissful horns and strings throughout over a super smooth bass-line. An aspect of Joey’s artistry that sometimes goes overlooked is his incredible ability to make a hook, this track exemplifies that talent. Another one of the smooth, groovy joints on this project is the Statik Selektah laced “Super Predator” ft. Styles P. Tracks 8 and 9, “Rockabye Baby” ft. ScHoolboy Q and “Ring the Alarm” ft. beast-coast mates Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight & Meechy Darko bring the boom as two of the bigger bangers on here.
It comes as no surprise that Joey delivered with this release. Over the past five or so years he has cemented himself among the top lyricists in the game. Will this project propel him to mainstream recognition? Does he even care? Maybe a little bit, but I think ultimately Joey will be pleased knowing he put out a truly incredible record with a cohesive message. It’s amazing to see Joey’s development into one of hip-hop’s top dog’s and we can’t wait to see where he goes from here. Make sure you support and go cop ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ on iTunes or go cop the physical at a store near you! SUPPORT REAL HIP-HOP!
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