Joey Bada$$ Delivers T.K.O. on ‘All-Amerikkkan Bada$$’
Joey Bada$$ delivers a knockout punch on ‘ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$,’ exceptionally capturing being black in America.
Joey Bada$$ – what a bada$$ name to say the least. Okay, corny, but an irresistible ice-breaker. The 22-year old rapper isn’t the least bit humorous on his latest album, ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. The reason is because he’s constructed an effort that is a socially and politically driven tour de force. He paints a picture of the state of being black in America – particularly the black male – and what the next steps are in the resistance of unfair, hurtful situations, etc. The result is sheer excellence.
“For My People”
“Good Morning Amerikkka” sets the tone for ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. Joey Bada$$ discusses relevant topics, with racism being most prevalent. This is a topic that runs rampant throughout the album. “For My People” builds upon the socially-driven tone of the intro, once more referencing racism in America, as well as depicting the ascent and come-up of blacks. He uses himself as the perfect example on the second verse:
“Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane / No, it’s the young black god livin’ out his dreams / What you mean? I been up on an ultralight beam / They don’t wanna see you fly, they just gonna shoot your wings.”
“Temptation” opens with a moving intro that once more addresses racism in America:
“I come here to talk about how I feel / And I feel like that we are treated differently than other people / And I don’t like how we’re treated / Just because of our color doesn’t mean anything to me.”
Throughout the song, Joey Bada$$ suggests black people have to fight for their rights essentially. Also, he seems to be struggling with his own problems, needing more than just him to move forward. The pre-chorus and chorus focus on the need for more, with the rapper petitioning God. As far as the movement, he gives an ultimatum to his people:
“…Tell me how we gon’ shape this vision / Complainin’ all day, but in the same condition / If you wanna make change, it’s gon’ take commitment…”
“Land of the Free”
“Trickery in the system, put my n*ggas in prison / All our history hidden, ain’t no liberty given.” On the valedictory “Land of the Free,” Joey Bada$$ isn’t playing around in the least. Like the Dixie Chicks back in 2006, it’s safe to say that he’s mad as hell. Racism is the focus of his anger, but he gets political shots in as well:
“The first step into change is to take notice / Realize the real games that they tried to show us / 300 plus years of them cold shoulders / Yet 300 million of us still got no focus / Sorry America, but I will not be your soldier / Obama just wasn’t enough, I just need more closure / And Donald Trump is not equipped to take this country over / Let’s face facts ‘cause we know what’s the real motives.”
“Y U Don’t Love Me?”
On “Devastated,” Joey Bada$$ raps about his come-up, a prevalent topic in hip-hop music. Even if music showcasing transformation from nothing to something has become cliché, he does a splendid job of sharing his personal ascent. The brilliant “Y U Don’t Love Me?” keeps ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ intriguing. Here, America is treated like a bad relationship where love comes at a premium. Approaching the song in a romantic, love-driven sense makes it among the crème de la crème.
“Tell me why you don’t love me / Why you always misjudge me? / Why you always put so many things above me? / Why you lead me to believe that I’m ugly?”
Any record that features ScHoolboy Q has to possess toughness. Such is the case with “Rockabye Baby,” which is frank from the jump. On the first verse, Joey Bada$$ speaks about revolution, preaching to the audience:
“And if you got the guts, scream, ‘F*ck Donald Trump’ / We don’t give a f*ck, never had one to give / Never will forget, probably never will forgive / Uh, I guess that’s just how it is / And they still won’t let the black man live.”
As for Q, he references how influential black culture is upon white people, yet suggests there’s still a major discrepancy when it comes to equality.
“Ring the Alarm”
“Ring the Alarm” is among the most confident songs from ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. “Ring the Alarm” features Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution, and Meechy Darko. Joey Bada$$ takes first blood, bragging about his skill in the game. After asserting himself as “the young intellectual don,” he slaughters the competition, spitting:
“No beef could never hurt me / I be on my Istanbul, they cold Turkey / Firstly, it’s the double entendre monster / Takin’ haunted constant trips through your conscious…”
Joey goes on to deliver the hook, a bridge, and another jam-packed, fiery verse. Meechy Darko follows with his own bridge (“Death before dishonor, I die for my brethren”), later returning for the outro. Nyck Caution handles the third and final verse, assisted by Kirk Knight. Like Joey himself, Caution isn’t playing around:
“Ring the alarm, we ain’t keepin’ it calm / Need a reason to see the dog, break the leash and I’m on / Was hungry when I started, more ravenous as I evolve / Caution hazardous, inflictin’ damages, I can’t recall, uh.”
One of the best characteristics of “Super Predator” is the production. Statik Selektah outdoes himself, giving a backdrop that manages to be both smooth and luxurious, yet hard-hitting in the spirit of East Coast rap. Both Joey Bada$$ and Styles P are on autopilot, fueled by the awesome backdrop. As great as the production work is, the message is even more powerful. The title and theme refer to the controversial statement by Hillary Clinton, seemingly addressing African-American children in gangs, etc. Both rappers use this oversimplification to their advantage.
“Babylon” keeps ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ going strong, never missing a beat. Joey Bada$$ focuses on the unfair persecution of black men. This represents one of the rapper’s most passionate performances, getting an exceptional lift from Jamaican reggae artist Chronixx. One of the most moving references Joey makes a couple of times throughout the song is Eric Garner.
Penultimate song “Legendary” pairs Joey Bada$$ with J Cole. The result is a thoughtful record that focuses on spirituality. This is quite the philosophical moment of ALL-AMERICAN BADA$$. The most memorable lyric arguably hails from the bridge:
“Tables keep turning, which way do I go? / A fire’s burning inside of my soul / Tables keep turning, which way do I go? / A fire’s burning inside my control.”
“Amerikkkan Idol” closes out ALL-AMERICAN BADA$$. Bada$$ goes H.A.M. on the first verse in particular, essentially suggesting that the revolution has begun. No, he doesn’t specifically cite a formal event, but essentially molds something of a black version of “Make American Great again.” Among the most telling lines of the song occurs during the chorus:
“I’m out for dead presidents to represent me / Dead f*ckin’ presidents to represent me / Because I’ve never known a live one that represent me.”
The rest of “Amerikkkan Idol” is as thrilling as the first verse and chorus. This record sums up the entirety of the album – it’s time for the mistreated to rise up beyond the darkness.
Essentially, Joey Bada$$ is the latest musician to RESIST President Donald Trump. While ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ references the 45th president of the United States, this is more a record about taking a stand for justice for blacks. While this isn’t the flashiest album of 2017, Joey Bada$$ has assembled a consistent, thoughtful record that transcends the normal subject matter and confines of hip-hop.
Gems: “For My People,” “Land of the Free,” “Y U Don’t Love Me?”, “Rockabye Baby,” “Ring the Alarm,” “Super Predator”