Having your whole album’s track list in bold, block capitals certainly gives the impression of something major. It indicates that it’s content is overstated; it’s indicative of someone shouting right in your face. Point blank. However, ‘ALL-AMERKKIAN BADA$$’ doesn’t follow in this thread at all, in either its production or its lyrical content. And that’s the surprising thing about Brooklyn native, Joey Bada$$; nothing about him outwardly suggests anything like the inward-looking, intelligent perspective that is unashamedly presented in his music. His last record, ‘B4.DA.$$’ was dripping with hip-hop swag, but also carried a message about modern America and the place of the black community within it. There is a reprisal of these elements in his second studio album; production gorgeousness abounds, and the track list spans across genres that allow for Joey Bada$$ to flow smoothly and gracefully with his lyrics.
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‘ALL-AMERIKKAN BADA$$’ feels like a grown-up reaction to a post Trump America, in which the narrator looks to the future with a cynical, yet hopeful vision. The album’s title track for example, isn’t unlike Macklemore’s ‘Same Love’- it has a simple piano lead melody, with a clear message delivered with even clearer diction. For Joey Bada$$, this record is required to have clarity, as its content concerns the serious peril that his country faces in a new era.
Deep diving into the darker parts of modern American is not the only ground that Joey Bada$$ covers here. In ‘TEMPTATION’ for example, there is an acknowledgement of his own reckless behaviour, brought upon him by fame and fortune. With the backing of a gospel choir, there is a feeling of redemption and forgiveness here (there’s nothing like a gospel choir to give your backing track a serious, hopeful lift, I think we can all agree). Later in the album you have ‘LEGENDARY’ which features, not only a vocal appearance by J Cole, but washes of his production influence through the smooth brass and droopy drum line-the backbone of the track. ‘ROCKABYE BABY’ references YG’s anger in ‘FDT’ and once again brings the record back around to its primary concern; America The Great and her future. Thematically, the album is held together by an electric guitar buzz, which appears frequently in the background. This addition links the album back to its content, but also its cover art; Joey Bada$$ flipping off his audience, an American flag floating behind him and his muscle car.
‘ALL-AMERIKKAN BADA$$’ is most certainly an intellectual jaunt for Joey Bada$$. It’s full of extremely beautiful production moments, with odes to the Tribe Called Quest school of sample extraction and scratching. The sound of the whole album heralds the coming of the summer; something that we can all look forward to, no matter what form it may take. If you’re an intellectual old school hip hop fan, you’ll love this album. If you’re just wanting something to groove too, this will be perfect for you also, don’t worry.
‘ALL-AMERIKKAN BADA$$ is available now via Pro Era/ Cinematic Music Group.