This album is great. Review over, go home.
“Sorry White America but I’m about to Black out”
22 year old, Brooklyn rapper, Joey Bada$$ dropped ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ today and it was the first thing I listened to this morning when I got to work. Now I haven’t really followed Joey’s career but I knew he existed. I was big fan of his role in the second season of Mr. Robot as Leon, one of the main character’s friends, discovering Seinfeld for the first time, who does some real shit during the show (watch Mr. Robot, its great).
Sonically, this project is extremely aesthetically pleasing. A lot of current hip-hop is trap influenced and focused getting a listener hyped up. The instrumentals aren’t the main attraction but a foundation for Joey to get his rhymes off. Do not take this to mean that the beats don’t knock because they are super duper well made. Sparse horns, piano and some bass playing bring a welcomed musicality that feel like a different but still modern era of hip hop. I caught some Isaiah Rashad vibes from the production, which is never a bad thing. The energy level is pretty much the same throughout but rises a tad in the middle with tracks like “DEVASTATED,” “ROCKABYE BABY,” and “RING THE ALARM.” A couple of the previously mentioned tracks have features that may be the cause for the slight uptick in intensity. The song “LEGENDARY” is wonderfully soulful and “Land of the Free” has a recognizable but not tired Biggie sample. It is just tasty ear food.
There is an obvious theme on ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ and Joey clearly has a lot to say on the matter. This album is incredibly explicit about the state of this nation through the viewpoint of an American black male. It describes how blacks are treated and the struggle to even stay alive sometimes. No punches are pulled and there are rarely metaphors as Joey prefers to just bluntly tell you what he wants to say. White supremacy, the government, the police and anybody else who can be blamed for the race problem in our country are mentioned here. “Y U DON’T LOVE ME” asks why isn’t he loved by the country he lives in. “ROCKABYE BABY” is a hard hitting anthem and features probably one of my favorite Schoolboy verses. Throw in a nice “Fuck Donald Trump” line (just in case you forgot) from Joey and this is definitely a highlight on an already excellent album. For some reason, I get the feeling that, despite what he says, Joey does want to be accepted by this country. It’s his home and it’s not fair that he and his fellow black men are treated differently.
“Getting millions, influencing white children, and oddly we still ain’t even?”-Schoolboy Q
Not every album is perfect and I guess I’ll list a few of the negatives that I found. The first time I listened to this project, I accidentally put it on shuffle. The medium tempo feel and energy along with a consistent subject matter could make it seem like the project is all one note. Although after listening to it again in the right order, the first song is definitely the first and last is absolutely the closer. For whatever reason, a lot of hip hop albums have one track near the end that is way too long. “AMERIKKKAN IDOL” is that song but to its credit…it’s reeeal good. Also all the song titles are in ALL CAPS, which I think is annoying.
Seriously, this album is just so well put together. It is extremely relevant and the artist has taken it personally the injustices that occurred his (our) people which recently dominated the media. Mr. Bada$$ was like “Ya’ll gone get these bars, I don’t care how you feel.” On top of great rapping and poignant subject matter, the instrumentals fit perfectly with Joey’s voice but would also sound great by themselves.
Did Joey peak too soon? Will this album be a classic for years to come? Rap album of the year so far?
Do yourself a favor and check it out here: