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Album Review: Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$

3 min read

There is no denying that hip hop was in its prime throughout the 90’s, the wonderful decade that will forever be called the Golden Era, an era which brought us the likes of Nas, The Notorious B.I.G, 2pac, Big L, Wu-Tang Clan, Eminem, Redman, Cypress Hill, Jay-Z… I could do this all day. Since these holy grail years though (and its hard for me to say this) Hip Hop has slowly begun to lose the passion and authenticity it once had, that was until I heard 1999 the debut mixtape from Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$. 1999 is a modern day classic, at the ripe age of just 17 years old Joey released this reincarnation of 90’s hip hop to world, now three years later Joey ‘Badmon’ Bada$$ has finally released his highly anticipated debut album B4.DA.$$ (meaning before the money) and just as we all thought it’s a boom bap masterpiece.

B4.DA.$$ - Joey Bada$$Sitting at a solid 17 tracks B4.DA.$$ is a project that reignites the spark from the Golden Age of Hip Hop and carries on its tradition through the use of specific beats, samples and lyrics. There’s a strong message of family, freedom and culture throughout the album which also creates a passionate atmosphere, you can definitely feel the young rappers heart and soul in every line. The opening track Save The Children opens with a recording of a crowd chanting ‘Joey’ and from this moment on you just know this album is going to be something special. The 90’s nostalgia kicks in straight away with the classic chilled out beat provided by the one and only Statik Selektah who features numerous times on the album and has also worked with Joey multiple times in the past, most recently on Statik’s own album What Goes Around which was released last year (another hip hop masterpiece).

Also on board to bring the old school vibes are Hip Hop veterans DJ Premier and the late J Dilla, both producers provide their famous sound for Paper Trail$ and Like Me ft BJ The Chicago Kid. Joey’s flow on both of these tracks is flawless, his ability to switch it up to suit each track is remarkable and his chemistry proves that he was born to work with these Hip Hop legends whilst slowly becoming one himself. Whilst the beats create a heaven for boom bap enthusiasts we can’t forget about Joey’s incredible lyrics, his wordplay and delivery are so advanced and authentic its hard to believe they have come from a 20 year old. Lyrically On & On is one of the best tracks on the album with Joey’s mention of Capital STEEZ sure to give any Pro Era fan goosebumps ‘I guess there really is a heaven for us hip hoppers/I really miss my partner/But I know he’s with Big Poppa, 2pac, and the Big L rolled proper/And that’s a Big Pun/Know that imma join him when the time comes’.

Things don’t always have an old school vibe on the album with Joey adding two tracks (Escape 120 & Teach Me) which hold an upbeat modern sound. Both tracks are produced by fellow Pro Era member Chuck Strangers and whilst I think the change of style works for Teach Me unfortunately I don’t think it pays off with Escape 120 (I think its more Raury’s verse than anything that makes me feel that way). I can’t finish this review without talking about two of the strongest tracks on the album No.99 and Christ Conscious. This is Joey Bada$$ at his best, his raw energy and hard hitting flow create pure mayhem, I’m pretty sure if you play No.99 in an open space with thousands of people there is sure to be a riot.

So there it is B4.DA.$$ has finally dropped and it did not disappoint, in a time where Hip Hop is being overshadowed by mainstream garbage it is both refreshing and comforting to know that artists like Joey Bada$$ exist, this is how Hip Hop should be done. Rappers take note this is the type of Hip Hop we want to hear! ‘IN HONOR OF THE PRO STEEZ, WE PRO-CEED’.