While Hip-hop has evolved since the days of Biggie, Tupac and Nas, at least one artist remains true to these roots and he is only 22-years-old. Jo-Vaughn Scott, a Brooklyn raised rapper known as Joey Bada$$, persists to set himself and his music apart from others in his genre and generation. His latest album “All Amerikkkan Bada$$” was released last Friday as a testament to this notion as well as a social and political commentary that is more than relevant.
Two songs off the album were released earlier this year, “Devastated” and “Land of the Free.” While each of these has gained considerable popularity and recognition, they represent a more simplified flow apart from the rest.
“Land of the Free” was a bit of an introduction to the artist and gave light to the album to come as he performed it recently on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It’s a memorable song with a beat similar to Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message,” yet the lyrics are striking. Joey visits a broad array of social issues pertinent to race in America with moving regard for history as well as hope for the future.
“They disorganized my people, made us all loners / still got the last names of our slave owners,” he raps in each chorus.
Towards the end of his final verse he pleads “I’m reaching out to my children, just hoping that they will listen / Start a new coalition against corrupt politicians.”
Although every song is unique, politics and institutional racism remain an overarching theme. It is very distinctive, a complete album dedicated to this sphere of thoughtfulness.
“Temptation” has the best groove and spirals into notes of gospel, while “Rockabye Baby” reaches into a heavy hitting darker shade of rap. In this track Bada$$ teams up with ScHoolboy Q and expresses relentless and rebellious views to a “JoHn Muir” (ScHoolboy) flow.
“If you ‘bout this revolution, please stand up / And if you got the guts, scream, ‘F**k Donald Trump.’”
“Ring the Alarm” is a bit remnant of Immortal Technique. The tone is eerie and demands concentration and regard for the present abstract lyrics. Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution and Meechy Darko are all featured making for an intense collaboration that never loses energy. J. Cole is featured on the track “Legendary,” which samples jazz and has a very unique underlying Latin rhythm.
The final song on this very concise 12-track album, “Amerikkkan Idol,” truly says the most. One of the most perplexing things about Joey Bada$$ is his ability to condense information. He somehow manages to fit worlds of little discussed knowledge into a four to six minute song, and this is best exemplified in this final piece. In case it’s not apparent enough, he spells America with three Ks to express the under representation and institutional injustice Black people face in America, a place still to this day home to those who share ideologies with the Klan.
“Alton Sterlings are happenin’ every day in this country and around the world / The scary part is most of these stories don’t make it to the news and reach mass consciousness,” Bada$$ raps.
To step outside of today’s popular rap format to convey messages he deems significant says something about this rappers passion for consciousness. He utilizes the vintage style of hip-hop while bringing things up to speed with present culture and modern flair. Any hip-hop enthusiast, young or experienced will be able to appreciate this modern-classic album.