Music For the Sole! Joey Bada$$ - ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$
It's Monday, we're feeling Bada$$, let's get in to it.
A number of years ago, back when I was an angsty teen trawling forums for the hottest new releases in Rap and Hip/Hop, bumping anything with a solid boom bap from Dattpiff.com, I stumbled upon the collective known as Pro Era. These guys were somewhere in between the all out anarchy of Odd Future, and the hyper stylisation of A$AP Mob. Willing to rap about bumming out of school, skating and smoking blunts, all the way to taking a look at politics in a more juvenile way than other conscious heads. They had the kudos of the old heads, a group raised on the Golden Age of Hip/Hop. As an elitist, borderline pretentious, backpacking rural school raised kid, Pro Era were the group I could empathise with the most.
Of the crew, the defacto leader was Joey Bada$$, A rap kid born only 3 days before myself. With the release of his debut mixtape, '1999' I found myself obsessed with his lyrical ability at such a young age, his bravado and ability to challenge fellow rap peers as well as politicians, and his keen ear for beats (1999 featured production by J Dilla, MF DOOM,Statik Selektah and Lord Finesse). After the release of the mixtape, the hip/hop scene was hit by the news of Pro Era member Capital STEEZ's death. Witnessing Joey live 6 months after, you could still tell the death of his friend and peer was still looming over him. Songs from Summer Knights, his forth coming release dedicated to Steez, fell flat live. It wasn't until Joey's last song, 'Survival Tactics', that his set roared in to life, the scathing final verse by Capital STEEZ ringing out whilst Joey implored a stage invasion. An anti authority statement for a verse filled with anti establishment themes. That moment felt like the only way to celebrate STEEZ.
After a while my interest in Joey waned. Summer Knights & B4.DA.$$ never lived up to the potential set by that mixtape. Joey grew up, I grew up. Smoking blunts on a park bench in the summer wasn't a viable option after getting a full time job. We drifted away.
Years later we find ourselves reacquainted.
The release of ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ finds Joey dealing with America under the rule of Trump. For me and fellow Brits of my age, we're besieged with a country in disillusion due to Brexit. As much as artists like YG and Kendrick have taken shots at Trump, no one has truly torn apart the current establishment like Joey. Land of the Free, released on the day of trumps inauguration, takes a firm aim at those in charge, and how they pulled the wool over the eyes of the young, the liberal, and those of a different race. For me, no one has come out with such fire towards the establishment since the global political climate has changed. Singles like 'Devastated' and 'Front and Center' are just easy bait for the casual fan to be exposed to Joey's lyrical ability, and his agenda. The full album plays out as a beautiful tribute to STEEZ, and the things he stood for. A beautiful follow up to STEEZ's own 'AmeriKKKan Korruption'.
Long Live Bada$$