Album Review and Analysis

Joey Badass's All Amerikkkan Badass


Many people believe hip-hop is essentially dead. With the onset of wildly popular “mumble rap” artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, and Lil Yatchy, many hip-hop/rap fans feel the future of the genre is threatened. Joey Bada$$, a contemporary of the artists previously mentioned, is a sign of life to many. At the age of 17, he released his debut mixtape, 1999, which was a lyrically strong demonstration of his rap skills interwoven with jazzy, percussive instrumentals. His second mixtape, Summer Knights, and debut studio album B4DA$$, only proved to increase his notoriety and showcase his insight on personal and political matters. Let's get into it…

Joey Bada$$’ second album, All Amerikkkan Bada$$, is a concept album that serves as an ode to all those oppressed by the USA, and is an examination of the impact this country’s complex history has had on all of us. He also discusses his own personal growth, notably on the track “Devastated” which is an optimistic take on his rise from underground rap artist to a potential contender as one of the most talented rap artists of our modern generation. Despite Joey Bada$$’ recent foible of staring at the eclipse when the whole country was advised not to, he remains wise and brutally honest about what he wants and expects as an American Black man.

Starting off with the interlude “Good Morning, Amerikkka,” Joey engages his listeners with an immediate contrast; the bright, hopefulness of morning with the dim, secretive murderous rule of the KKK--who underneath their hoods were prominent and working class white men and women. The album has somewhat of an eerie undertone that communicates urgency. He evaluates the treatment of America’s oppressed people by exploring subtopics including racial profiling, poverty, murder, all juxtaposed with this theme of guaranteed freedom synonymous with life in the USA.

What I liked. The cohesive concept of the album. Joey Bada$$’ debut was not as realized as his sophomore effort. He’s as honest and raw as ever, and his lyrics have even more bite and impact as he calls out the maltreatment blacks have faced in the country. He takes on the ‘Amerikkka’ alternate spelling as a provocative commentary on the often hidden in plain sight microaggression modern racism has taken. Joey Bada$$ stays true to his style, which can seem stagnant, but nevertheless most of the instrumentals are memorable and complement the flow of his words and tone of his voice.

The tracks, “For My People,” “Land of the Free,” Y U Don’t Love Me?,” Super Predator,” and “Babylon” are the most memorable politically charged tracks on the album, communicating that the relationship between the USA and the oppressed is that of an abusive one. I also admire how bold Joey’s declarations are about what he observes. He does not seem to have watered down his message to assuage anyone’s ego. He references many topics, even the most provocative; the idea that Blacks are being killed at alarming rates to use their organs. I absolutely love the track “Legendary.” Joey Bada$$ stands out on the track as a potential legend himself, and possibly an influence on future legends since those “n**gas only multiply.”

On a more personal note, “Temptation” Joey discusses the impact these occurrences have on him in his life. He essentially communicates the trauma he experiences sandwiched between an audio clip of a young, black girl crying about the way Black people are mistreated in the USA. With, the inclusion of this clip, Joey Bada$$ further reveals the callous and psychopathic nature of a white supremacist system where the lives of children aren’t even considered or spared. He concludes the album with a mini-manifesto of sorts, “Amerikkkan Idol” where he details what Blacks are up against in this country and what the focus of the community needs to be on to rectify this devastating situation.

What I didn't like. J. Cole’s feature on “Legendary” was a snooze-fest. I had to look to see who it was. He sounds so indistinct, bored, and unenthusiastic. He has more energy on his own tracks. Hell, he had more enthusiasm rapping about leaving his kids on your couch in Jeremih’s “Planes.” If Joey had Isaiah Rashad or Ab-Soul or Kendrick, I think they would bring the heat at the level Joey was at. As much as I loved Meechy’s verse on “Ring the Alarm,” the instrumental was kind of weak for the greatness present on that track. It sounded like an 8-bit version of an instrumental for a creepy, B-Horror film. It needed more of a bang, it needed to go hard.

Recommended. What is great is that Joey Bada$$ has 10-tracks that can stand alone as good pieces of music. Even though each track connects to form a cohesive album, the tracks aren’t dependent on the previous to be understood or enjoyed. While the album isn’t talking about anything groundbreaking, it does a great job of presenting another perspective that only adds to the discussion about what efforts people will take to make changes in this country.

Check out the video for "Temptation" below