In 2015, it is hard to make a “hip-hop” album that truly resonates with a diverse range of age groups. There’s more of a split in fans than ever before, and it all has to do with age.
You either appeal to the younger crowd by making raps that can be played over a Vine clip, or you release something that the older heads can get down with. Either way, one side is going to hate it. However, 20-year-old Joey Bada$$’s debut album B4.DA.$$ manages to hold the attention of the younger crowd, while retaining a classic hip-hop vibe that the OG’s can appreciate.
B4.DA.$$ is a fantastic showcase of the changes the young emcee has made in his music since his debut mixtape 1999, in addition to acting as a good indication of where his music is headed. He has started to drift away from the boom-bap style of Statik Selektah that he initially garnered attention with, a move that will only help him in the long run as many listeners in 2015 find the sound to be boring. Associated with that shift in style, many of the hooks throughout the album seem to be dance hall-influenced, and on a few tracks he hits higher pitches, coming close to singing, something I haven’t really heard from him previously.
B4.DA.$$ is Joey’s best project to date, bringing in just enough change, simultaneously clinging to the soulfulness of 1999 whilst still showing critics and fans that he’s grown since 2012. Young as he is, Joey Bada$$ is undoubtedly already one of the best emcees in the game today, and it seems as though his best work is yet to come.
Some of my favorite songs from the album can be found below. Each one showcases a different side of Joey as an artist.
“Like Me,” was produced by J. Dilla and The Roots and features BJ The Chicago Kid, so how could anyone not like this one? As far as standouts on the album, it didn’t seem to garner much praise. However, BJ’s soulful vocals and Joey’s lyrics and smooth, sentimental flow make this one of my favorites.
“Christ Conscious.” I normally don’t like when Joey gets aggressive on a track, as it doesn’t sound as natural for him and often comes across as choppy or unnecessary. Hence the reason I wasn’t a huge fan of Summer Knights. However, with the way this beat hits, I love the way things worked out. The hook on this one is also killer.