Review: Joey Bada$$, ‘All-Amerikkkan Bad$$’

Written by Angelo Gingerelli

Since debuting in 2012 with his 1999 mixtape, Joey Bada$$ has occupied an odd space in Hip-Hop. His 90’s influenced rhyme style and classic NYC production immediately made him a favorite of Hip-Hop purists, critics and legendary artists like A Tribe Called Quest (They actually mention his name on their last release as one of their favorites of this era. You can read ThePopBreak’s review here) and landed him firmly on many “Next To Blow Up” lists. Over the next five years, Joey has released a steady stream of respectable material but never quite reached the commercial success of peers like Drake or Big Sean or the critical acclaim of J. Cole or Kendrick Lamar. All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ might change all of this.

The first words of the album are “What’s freedom to you? / Let’s talk about it, take a minute think it through…” (“Good Morning AmeriKKKa”), which really set the tone for the entire project. Where previous Joey Bada$$ albums sounded like a teenager messing around with his older brother’s record collection, this album sounds like a mature artist taking his time and “thinking it through” as he comes of age right before our eyes. 1999 was released when Joey was a seventeen year old high school student, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ finds him as a 22 year old adult who’s worldview has been shaped by the events of the last five years including the election of Donald Trump, the widespread media coverage of police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, the questionable practices of mainstream media, the end of the Obama administration, the escalating situation in the Middle-East and the gentrification of urban areas, which are just some of the topics Joey addresses throughout the album.

Structurally All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ defies the format of most Hip-Hop albums as it starts with several more somber/introspective songs (Temptation, Land of the Free, Devastated) and then picks up steam in the second half with more energetic tracks like “Rockabye Baby” featuring Schoolboy Q, Pro-Era posse cut “Ring The Alarm” and the timely “Super Predator” with Styles P. While both halves of the record deserve to be heard, the first half will appeal to Joey Bada$$ fanatics that want to dissect every “woke” lyric and the second will appeal to a broader audience that will enjoy the hard-hitting beats and guest verses. This is the rare album during this era that is more than just a collection of random hot tracks and deserves to be experienced as a total body of work, also it would have benefited from being available on LP or cassette since there is such and obvious difference between “Side A” and “Side B.”

In an era where many of Joey’s peers are mumbling, getting some combination of “Lit” and/or “Turnt” and otherwise providing party music to take their fan’s minds off the world around them, the “All American Bada$$” is addressing 2017 America head-on and giving listeners tracks that are both sonically dope and lyrically thought provoking and if that doesn’t put Joey Bada$$ near the top of his class of MC’s we need to reevaluate the grading procedure.

Best Songs: Rockabye Baby, Ring The Alarm, Devastated

Perfect For: Like Eminem Said “Driving around with your windows down and your system up”

All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ Score: 8.5/10

Also Worth Checking Out…

New Star – Armless: Over the course of a six track EP, NJ’s New Star addresses a ton of diverse topics over banging production, it’s the definition of Quality Over Quantity.

Your Old Droog – Packs: YOD’s new album combines his trademark punchlines with improved production and songwriting that separate him from the pack of NYC “lyrical” MC’s.

Angelo Gingerelli has been contributing to The Pop Break since 2015 and writing about pop culture since 2009. A Jersey shore native, Gingerelli is a writer, stand-up comic, hip-hop head, sneaker enthusiast, comic book fan, husband, father and supporter of the local arts scene. He likes debating the best rappers of all time, hates discussing why things were better in the “Good Ol’ Days” and loves beating The Pop Break staff at fantasy football. You can catch up with Angelo on Twitter/IG at @Mr5thRound, at his website or interviewing rising stars in NJ’s Hip-Hop scene on “The A&R Podcast” (iTunes/SoundCloud).


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