Joey Bada$$ / ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$

Brooklyn MC Joey Bada$$ has finally returned with his sophomore project ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, keeping the spirit of East Coast hip hop alive with his reinvention of typical rap. The boom bap and gritty street realism of his debut B4.DA.$$ are nowhere to be seen on this latest release – instead Joey refines his jazz rap sound with glossy production and hints of modern hip hop, both a clear continuation and complete changeup for his established style. ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ proves that the East Coast is far from dead, and that Joey Bada$$ is leading the new wave.

Joey’s music has always somehow managed to balance the three of corners of the hip hop triangle; quality lyricism, refined production, and a conscious attitude. ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ is no different, but this time around Joey seems to be shooting for pop appeal too. Unlike many artists, a more commercial angle has far from watered down this Brooklynite’s music – Joey doesn’t sacrifice political commentary for a more radio friendly sound, nor does he abandon stylistic production for more conventional beats. Instead, Joey brings all these elements together. Obvious single cuts like Devastated and Land of the Free are catchy and radio friendly while still retaining classic elements of the East Coast sound, with a well-placed “skrrt-skrrt” almost seeming like a little jab at the modern hip hop industry at the same time.

Joey’s hip hop conscience is as active as ever too. The album’s title, an obvious homage to both the late Capital Steez’s AmeriKKKan Corruption and Ice Cube’s seminal AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, serves as the framing element for this project. Joey’s reflections on African-American identity, racial discrimination, and the state of modern America, are so undeniably integral to this album. Tracks like Good Morning AmeriKKKa, Y U Don’t Love Me (Miss AmeriKKKa), and AmeriKKKan Idol present social issue after social issue through Joey’s insightful lens – it’s powerful, important opinions expressed through quality music that we need more of, and ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ is a testament to this.

The lyricism and vocal presence established on 1999 and B4.DA.$$ are just as refined on this latest project, with Joey’s flow and lyrical ability shining stronger than ever. Bar after bar, line after line, every verse Joey spits is smooth and hard hitting, never slipping up or missing a beat on any of these twelve tracks. Joey’s features are well placed too, adding to the show while not stealing the scene – the posse cut Ring the Alarm has Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight, and Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies especially, all deliver unrelenting and ìntense verses, while the ScHoolboy Q feature on Rockabye Baby and J.Cole’s supposed final guest verse of all time on Legendary are great contrasts to Joey’s flow.

ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$’ production is just as varied, with 1-900, Kirk Knight, and Statik Selektah forming the backbone of Joey’s production team on this project. These beats are all over the place, yet at the same time forming a cohesive and satisfying album. Joey just as easily grasps jazzy but modern cuts like the smooth For My People or the groovy Temptation as much as he drops hard bars on grittier tracks like the boom bappy Rockabye Baby or Babylon. Statik Selektah’s production shines on Super Predator with its captivating bassline, while DJ Khalil’s closing track AmeriKKKan Idol ends the album with one of Joey’s most insightful and introspective performances.

ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ continues Joey Bada$$’ string of impressive releases, and from 1999, to B4.DA.$$, and to here, it’s clear that Joey is only growing as an artist. For this Brooklyn rapper, this latest project is one of 2017’s strongest hip hop releases and a statement to the longevity of the East Coast. He’s conscious, he’s talented, and he’s a badass.

86 / 100

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