With the very tense political and social climate in America today, many artists have taken the initiative to base their work on amplifying their injustices and those of their people. With the release of his third studio album, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, New York rapper Joey Bada$$ put together an album that exemplifies that theme in a way where most others haven’t been able to.
On his previous albums, Joey’s style has been a hard-hitting, 90’s style of rap, with a flow that was very hard and emotional. On All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, he changes this up. Not only does he come in with a lot of melodic singing on “For My People,” “Temptation,” and the hit single “Devastated,” but he shows off his classic New York influence on “Rockabye Baby,” “Super Predator,” and “Ring the Alarm.”
Joey’s main theme on this album is his view on the current climate for African-Americans in the U.S. today. On the track “Babylon,” Joey’s first verse starts with him rapping very low, in an extremely calm demeanor – until he talks about turning on the TV to CNN and seeing another fellow black man die at what he calls “the white hand of justice”. He immediately switches flow to a loud, extremely emotional one – you can just feel how strongly he cares about this subject. “Just another black man, died at the white hand of justice, to tell the truth, man, I’m f***in’ disgusted, I fear for the lives, of my sisters, my brothers…”
One of my favorite tracks from the album is the grimy banger, “Rockabye Baby,” featuring fellow rapper ScHoolboy Q. This song is a fluid, choppy banger that was released as a single a week before the album was released. This song bangs HARD. It’s the type of song that makes you scrunch your face in sheer amazement. Continuing on the theme of the album, Joey emphatically yells: “F*** Donald Trump!” ScHoolboy Q also comes in and spits one of his best guest verses to date.
“Just another black man, died at the white hand of justice, to tell the truth, man, I’m f***in’ disgusted, I fear for the lives, of my sisters, my brothers…”
I think Joey also did a great job with the feature artists on this record. The aforementioned ScHoolboy Q verse is one of the best of the year. The posse cut “Ring the Alarm” features Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies, along with Joey’s Pro Era label mates Kirk Knight and Nyck Caution. This song was one of the more intriguing songs on the album, with Meechy providing his usual crazy voice for a stellar chorus. Appearing on the track “Legendary” was rap superstar J. Cole. I wasn’t over-the-top impressed with Cole’s verse, but it was still very good.
Perhaps what best exemplifies the theme of this album is the title, cover, and the song, “Land of the Free.” The title, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, spells “American” with three K’s instead of the C, implying America’s bias and oppression against African-Americans. The cover shows Joey hanging out of a car with a menacing look and gesture with an altered American flag behind him. On “Land of the Free,” Joey comes through with this powerful line: “Still got the last names of our slave owners, they disorganized my people, made us all loners.” This line is so incredible because what he’s saying rings so true, and it makes you think broadly about the topic.
In a release that many thought would be overshadowed by that of Kendrick Lamar’s new album, Joey Bada$$ proved that he can certainly hold his own. In a surprising fashion, Joey made songs that work for cruising around the summer with the windows down, songs that make you get hyped, all while maintaining a theme that he and so many others care about deeply: the systematic oppression of African-Americans in the U.S. The 22-year-old still has lots of time to make some more classics – but this one proved he’s here to stay.