Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$

Released: 1/20/2015

6/7 stars

“Y’all ready for Joey Bada$$?”

From hip-hop fans everywhere, the answer to that is a resounding yes. Since the first time the masses heard Joey on 2012’s 1999, they’ve been ready for a proper release. That release, B4.DA.$$, is exactly what hip-hop needed to start off 2015. This might come off as a bit strange considering heavyweights like Kanye, Kendrick, Drake and Big Sean all have albums slated for pre-summer releases but let’s think about what hip-hop was in 2014.

It was Shmoney dancing. It was mid-week partying with Makonnen. It was Rae Sremmurd’s sudden rise to number one. It was Migos’ mixtapes and Travis Scott yelling “Straight UP!”

It wasn’t lyrical.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an all-time year for club rap. We also saw more of an electronic crossover (in a production sense) that has begun to push rap into a sonic space it has never been before.

That being said, where were the releases full of MCs putting on a display with their words?

This is why B4.DA.$$ is a perfectly timed release.

The 20-year-old Brooklyn native doesn’t waste time getting to work on the lead track “Save The Children”, re-working Shad’s “I Don’t Like To” and dropping bombs within the first verse.

“The chicken strip teasers
Thighs, legs and the breast part is the cleavage
She even lick it down to the bone marrow
She in love but I ain’t got a bow and arrow
I’m known to jack the booty like I’m Sparrow”

“Greenbax (Introlude)” introduces us to a main theme of the album: the struggle between earning enough money to get by and staying grounded once that money is acquired. You find a balance through the juxtaposition of the advice being barked out by his mother throughout the album and Joey’s rhymes on tracks like “Paper Trail$.”

This is the album’s most memorable track, its classic. Joey has a field day on this one without drums for a majority of the first verse. *When the drums kick at :43, it’s near impossible to not let out a “WOOOO”*

In the middle of the album, we get a slew of boom bap tracks that vary in tone from the brooding “Big Dusty” to the wavy “Hazeus View”.

BJ The Chicago kid, who’s seemingly become everyone’s go-to for a chorus (Schoolboy’s “Studio”, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s “Shame”, Chance’s “Everybody’s Something”) hops on for the fluid choruses of “Like Me” which span from ever-so-confident to just holding out hope.

However the strongest guest spot on the album goes to Raury on “Escape 120”. Queue the Andre 3000 comparisons. The ATLien teenager flexes his arsenal by following his syllable stuffing verse with an equally impressive sung outro.

“Escape 120” is in the middle of a trio of pensive tracks that includes “On & On” and “Black Beetles”. After this trio, Joey ditches the introspection and picks up a nostalgic view on “O.C.B”.

While toying around with the three letter acronym structure, Bada$$ leaves us with a whimsical tone on this one and the finisher “Curry Chicken”.

Joey’s lyricism and boom bap style bring hip-hop back to its roots in a spectacularly impressive fashion.

*No. 99 sounds like something straight off of a Tribe release*

B4.DA.$$ is a triumphant first LP that establishes Joey Bada$$, at 20 years old, as one of the game’s best.

Bed Stuy’s next great rapper has arrived.

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