It’s been two years since he dropped his 1999 mixtape at the tender age of 17, but New York’s golden boy, Joey Bada$$, has finally returned with his highly anticipated debut studio album B4.DA.$$.
Reminiscent of the boom-bap era of the ’90s and featuring the likes of Maverick Sabre, Bada$$ has captured the mood of the present day and fused it with beats that will export you to a time of high tops, heavy chains and Tommy Hilfiger boob-tubes.
Bada$$’s power to manipulate words is ever-present, notably in Paper Trail$. Shouting “cash ruin everything around me”, he pays homage (in some respects) to Wu-Tang Clan. Coupled with trumpets and an eerie beat, this is by far one of the best tracks on the album.
Rapping about blunts, bitches and daily struggles, he’s managed to stay clear of the watered down, pop-influenced hip-hop we’ve become accustomed to, with only a flicker of pop in the shape of Teach Me, featuring Kiesza.
There’s no doubt that he’s taken inspiration from heavy players in the game, such as Talib Kweli, Mos Def and The Pharcyde, but Bada$$ doesn’t quite hit the high bar they set.
A sense of deja vu is present, as if Bada$$ had sneaked into his older brother’s CD collection, or picked up a boom-bap music for beginners book. His skill is undisputed but the album feels a bit unfinished – as if he has more to give.
Overall, Joey delivers. B4.DA.$$ coincides with the ’90s revival we’re seeing at the moment and is consistent, but lacks a certain something. Far from flat-lining but not one to get hearts racing, this is mediocre hip-hop. It’s a credible album but whether it’s the profound sound “Biggie would be proud about” is questionable.
Featured image courtesy of Kmeron via Flickr