Album Review B4.DA.$$ - Joey Bada$$
After giving up on his acting dreams in 9th grade, Joey proved that his choice to pursue a career in the hip-hop industry was for the best. Starting with his premier album, “Illmatic,” he uses fluid storytelling that brings in both old school and new school fans near everyday. Another reason for his broad fan base is because he was heavily influenced by, and is often compared to 20-year-old NAS. After his first release, mixtape 1999 in 2012, Joey Bada$$ earned much applause and even a nomination for BET Rookie of The Year in 2013. He recently caught heat for Malia Obama showing his collective “Pro Era” much love with a selfie with a Pro Era shirt on. In much anticipation for his next big release, his debut album B4.DA.$$, he released singles “Big Dusty”, “Christ Conscious”, “No. 99”, and “Curry Chicken”; He also had a live performance of “Teach Me” and “Like Me”. All songs had a great response! After much hype, on January 20, 2015, Joey’s 20th birthday, his debut album, B4.Da.$$, was released.
To little doubt, the project matched expectations and blew everyone away. Each song flows effortlessly through metaphor and story. The stories deliver a personal ode to growing up young and black in America. He also put his impression on current cultural issues. It is pleasing to see his improvement and progression to his late night jazz feel with advanced delivery and obvious lyrical maturity. For this project he collaborated with producer legends, DJ Premier, Hi-Boy, J Dilla, and Statik Selektah and even utilized the instrumentation of The Roots and The Soul Rebels.
The album starts off with a PSA on Joey’s struggle with black youth culture on “Save The Children” and “Paper Trail$”. He follows with a slow lead into extrapolating on how he feels he’s improved with “Piece Of Mind” and “Big Dusty”. By now he’s entrapped his listeners and thus switches into his late night jazzy feel with “Hazeus View” and “Like Me Ft. BJ The Chicago Kid”. He then goes a litter darker with “Belly Of The Beast Ft. Chronixx” and “No. 99” that seem to have a reggae, against the system, hit ‘em up feel.
In the second half of the album, Joey flows into an existential third eye scripture for “Christ Conscious”. He returns to the cool blue beat with “On & On” and then picks up the pace with a 90’s bop feel in “Escape 120”. The last three tracks create a lovely conclude. First “Black Beetles” sounds like the moment before a catastrophic ending and everything and is in freeze. It also pays homage to his two Capital Steez and “cuz” that both passed. “O.C.B. aka. Only Child Blues” has the sound of a round of applause blended with a last dance encore. And he ends with “Curry Chicken”, that sounds like his own “Last Call”.
If you stuck around and landed yourself a deluxe album edition you were blessed with two more bonus tracks. The first one “Run Up On Ya Ft. Action Bronson and Elle Varner“ has a slow vibe that reminds us more of mix-tape Joey just rapping about nothing. And finally he wraps it all up with an uplifting bop, similar but more energetic than “Escape 120”, called “Teach Me Ft. Kiesza” that shows us all’s good with this freshly out of his teens phenomenon. The album debuted 5 on the Billboard 200 and sold 53,990 copies in his first week outperforming hip-hop great Lupe Fiasco’s Tetsuo & Youth, released the same day.
You can grab this album at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/b4.da.$$/id948743541.
Festivals Set To Play in 2015: Wireless, WOO HAH!, Balaton Sound, and Fresh Island
Written By Andrew Taylor-Shaut