Amidst all the will he/won’t he hype circulating around Kendrick Lamar’s album, Friday 7th April 2017 was rightly reserved for another iconic voice in Hip-Hop; New York rapper Joey Bada$$, who dropped his sophomore album All Amerikkkan Bada$$.
The title (and album cover for that matter) is a clear middle finger to recent political and socioeconomic events in the States. The video for ‘Land of the Free’ embodies the whole project which sees him rap about mass incarceration, corruption and police brutality; it is bold, poignant and vividly honest.
It almost feels like an album with two sides – the first 6 tracks being relatively commercial, filled with lush melodic chords and memorable sing-a-longy choruses. However, as soon as the first kick drum hits on the Schoolboy Q-accompanied ‘Rockabye Baby’ it is back to what we know best from Joey – throwback 90’s boom-bap and hard-hitting verses. What’s interesting further is that he saves all his collaborations for the B-Side, including appearances from Pro-Era label mates Nyck Caution and Kirk Knight, Styles P and J. Cole.
‘Tempation’ is a highlight, which is touchingly sandwiched between soundbites of 9-year-old Zianna Oliphant’s emotional plea to Charlotte City Council after the fatal police shooting of Keith Scott. It is a frank assessment of Donald Trump’s America in which he asserts similar ideas in Zianna’s speech – what does it mean to be young and black in modern-day America?
The sound of the record overall is by far his most polished, and dare I say puts him amongst Hip-Hop’s elite. Joey sent the internet into a small frenzy recently by stating he’d flame 2Pac in a one-on-one battle, however, there is something very Pac about this sound – the aesthetic, the subject matter, the revolutionary themes and of course the bars.
Although we’ll have to wait at least another week before another US legend drops his album, this one well and truly belongs to an all-amerikkkan bada$$.
All Amerikkkan Bada$$ is available now.