Review : Joey Bada$$ - 1999
MostlyjunkfoodThere isn’t a genre or culture more easily differentiated by its era than hip-hop. A short rotation of titles and buzzwords can trigger the sights and sounds of any given decade within the past 30 years. “The Golden Age” is an evocative one; Ripe with the predatory, yet prolific, foundation of Run-DMC and Public Enemy, up through the cognitive dissonance between the afrocentric alternatives of Tribe and Dilla, vs the gangsta rap explosion ranging anywhere from Wu Tang to DPG. On the other hand, Brooklyn native Joey Bada$$, who was born in ’95, wasn’t around for, pretty much, any of it. Now, the lowest hanging fruit in this rising MC’s career right now is clearly his age. But, at just 17 years old, 1999 sounds like a debut mixtape that owes it’s entire conception to a decade that its author left nearly no impression on. Yet, under the cloak of clear nostalgic influence, Joey still finds a way to identify himself to the listener.
To be clear, it’s not just the 90′s that Bada$$ emulates through the beats and rhymes here. It’s, specifically: east coast, boom-bap, occasionally-do-the-wop, gritty, no half-steppin’, 90′s hip-hop. You’ll pick out some Nas, probably some Mobb Deep, and even Big L (if you’re reaching), but Joey isn’t that adept or studied to fulfill those comparisons — though, that clearly comes with, *ahem*, age experience. What Joey does do well is keep his surface-level musings entertaining. “Survival Tactics”, featuring his Pro Era teammate Capital STEEZ, is a vocal exercise built around a nimble drum beat and sparse keyboard vibes, but it’s the lyrics that hold the track together: “My P.E conglomerates bout to P-E-E on any wanna B-E, weak MC” snarls Joey, only to be 1-up’d by STEEZ on the next verse, “They say hard work pays off, well tell the Based God don’t quit his day job/Cause P.E’s about to take off, with protons and electrons, homie that’s an A-bomb”. It’s the free-flowing nature of Bada$$ that keeps his lyrics so fresh. Because, in all reality, the kid’s not saying much new, and the beats, while meticulously crafted and chosen (we get takes on MF DOOM’s “Vomitspit”, a Dilla beat from Donuts, and a Statik Selektah classic), aren’t varied enough to show a sufficient amount of range....full text
AllhiphopIn the Hip-Hop world today, there is a trend forming; a phenomenon of young talent coming together in collectives, led by one standout performer- such as SpaceGhostPurrp, A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, and Tyler, The Creator. You can add Joey Bada$$ to this category of front-runners now as well. The 17-year-old senior in high school from Brooklyn has burst onto the scene with his debut project 1999, representing his crew Pro Era, and giving listeners flashbacks and a breath of fresh air at the same time....full text
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