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Album Review: Joey Bada$$ — B4.DA.$$

For most people’s 20th birthday, they…well, I don’t know, really. It’s one of those weird in-between years where you can’t legally drink or get into clubs. Anyway, what I do know is that most 20 year olds don’t release chart-topping albums on their birthdays–but that’s exactly what Joey Bada$$ did.

Two and a half years after the release of his first mixtape, his debut album B4.DA.$$ features production from names like DJ Premier, J Dilla, and Hit-Boy and after his acclaimed projects 1999 and Summer Knights, the stakes were as high as the anticipation. Joey has built a huge following among both his New York peers and hip hop heads alike, constantly being praised for his ability to combine impressive bars with addictive beats.

Even though it was apparent long before, Joey’s performance of “Like Me” with BJ The Chicago Kid and The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon solidified the high expectations for the album. This is one of the tracks on the album with production from the late J Dilla and proves to be a real stand out song. Throughout the track, Joey croons different hopes and prayers including, “I pray there’s hope for a nigga like me” proving especially sentimental and prevalent on the Fallon broadcast when he ended his performance doing the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture.

The album begins with fans chanting his name followed by a voice screaming, “y’all ready for Joey Bada$$?!” building the excitement for the album that follows. If you have listened to Joey Bada$$ before, you will not be disappointed with this newest release. Though it is similar to his previous projects, that is exactly what makes it what it is. Joey does not sound like his contemporaries; his sound is distinct to the Brooklyn-native and as always is surprisingly mature and filled with wisdom. More so than any other music being produced today, Joey’s has a vibe that calls back to 90’s hip hop, most of which was flourishing when the rapper was not even able to walk yet. His ability to pull from his influences like Nas, Black Thought, and Jay-Z gives B4.DA.$$ a nostalgic, yet refined and still futuristic sound.

There is a common theme in the album wherein Joey explores the trials and tribulations caused by money. The album title itself–B4.DA.$$–is extremely fitting in that it will presumably be the last album he releases before he is more successful and influenced by the money he will have coming in. In “Paper Trail$,” Bada$$ does his own take on the classic Wu-Tang acronym instead insisting, “Cash Ruin Everything Around Me,” and that “money is the root of all people.”

B4.DA.$$ provides us with some amazing new Joey Bada$$ material that definitely lived up the expectations that have been developing for what seems like forever. With an already strong library from his previous two mixtapes, this debut album is the perfect launch for what will unquestionably be a long and prosperous career. Happy Birthday, Joey!

About Rebecah Jacobs

From Los Angeles and living in New York. Always listening to music.

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