Feb 20, 2015

Editorial: #B4DaMoney by @joeybadass Album Review by @RamseySaidWHAT

One month later and a few re-listens, here we are. A review of the debut album of Joey Bada$$.

It feels funny saying debut because of how long Jozif has been in the game. It's been awhile since we heard the 16-year old spitter from Flatbush on 1999. He's now 20 and definitely next up to make noise (figuratively and literally) in the hip-hop game.

Lets get into B4Da$$ and the music. The story begins with Save the Children. It's pretty self explanatory, he just goes back and forth between issues in the black community and the issues in hip-hop itself. I really liked the skits and interludes on this album. They fit well into the story themselves. In the Greenbax Introlude they took a clip from the movie Gummo. After the clip you hear Kirk Knight chant his hunger for success. In my opinion the album really began with track three, Paper Trail$. It kinda plays off the interlude with subject matter. This was produced by the legendary DJ Premier while sampling their last collab Unorthodox. As the song fades out Joey reaches out to a homie locked up to play him a song he dedicated to him. To give his friend Piece of Mind, he tells him what's been going on with his new found life of fame. When the song fades out he's back on the phone. His friend is impressed and can't wait to see the Pro Era crew. He also tells Joey he heard his other track that was on Rosenberg's morning show, Big Dusty. Perfect transitioning. Big Dusty was also the first single for the album. Wasn't my favorite track but still carries that East Coast classic hip-hop flavor for ya ear. I thought it was clever the way he promoted it on his instagram (peep 28 weeks ago).  Dusty ends with an interview on wPRO Brooklyn (get it?). He talks about his parents and how he sticks to his West Indian Roots, queuing the next track Hazeus View. Boom Bap percussion meets Jamaica on this jam. This track really shows how versatile Joey Baddy really is and how is sound has grown since first arriving on the scene.

The next song is one of my two favorites on B4Da$$. Like Me features BJ the Chicago Kid. If I were a rapper BJ is the most ideal feature I'd have on my album. He's an amazing singer, probably very cost effective, leaves impact on a track but doesn't upstage your own artistry. I'd put him in a perfect class of feature singers like James Fauntleroy, Frank Ocean, and Elijah Blake that won't do too much but still enough on your track. It's catchy to the ear and spits a nice life story. Like Me was produced by the legendary J. Dilla, nuff said. Belly of the Beast featuring Chronixx is another hip-hop and dancehall crossover.

We heard No 99 before the album dropped. You can peep the video here. Track ten is the other of my two favorites, Christ Conscious. It's another single we already heard, but impossible to listen to just once. I literally don't understand you if you don't get hype when the beat drops and he hits us with ill flow plus dope lyrics.

That was a tough track to follow but On and On did it, and well I might add. This is the climactic turning point of the album. Slightly slower and clearly closer to Joey's heart.

"Mama I just booked a first class ticket to my destiny by the way."

UK crooner, Maverick Sabre sings something similar to the Christian funeral song in "I'll Fly Away" while Pro Era teammate Dymeond Lewis and Joey both talk about their life and what comes after. Of course Joey mentions his fallen brother Capitol STEEZ, but at the same time Joey doesn't want people to mourn after his demise.

"Don't mourn me when I'm gone, celebrate my travels. Whenever you need me just take a plane to the astral zone. I'm headed home, been hurtin too long, Time don't stand still so you gotta move on."

This track is especially emotional. It's almost like providing closure. I think anyone who's ever lost someone could relate. Honestly, Joey could have ended the album right here and it would have been perfect. Afterwards I lost a little bit of interest in the album at this point. They weren't bad songs but personally could have been without. Maybe he could have put the remaining tracks on a deluxe edition. Still they served their purpose telling the story. Still, I think On and On would be a perfect outro to B4Da$$.

Escape 120 is another nice song and the message is self explanatory featuring Raury. Curry Chicken is fun but we heard the single before the album dropped. O.C.B (Only Child Blues) serves it's purpose at the end of the album. Black Beatles goes fairly unnoticed for me. Run Up On Ya is another jam many might overlook but you should go back and listen. The track features the beautiful and talented Elle Varner and Ghostface's clone in Action Bronson. Teach Me is a bonus for the deluxe version purchasers and serves it's purpose as (another) outro to the album.

All in all I was very impressed by Joey Bada$$ in his "debut." Do not mistake my critiques as hate, thus far this is my favorite album released this year. Production was surperb throughout with work from the usual Statik Selektah, Kirk Knight, J Dilla, Chuck Strangers, amoungst others. I hope he can stand well to make it to 2015 AOTY competition. I think Joey could have it out with any hip-hopper in the game today and honestly yesterday as well (yesterday is a metaphor for history). Although it was pushed back, B4Da$$ did what I and everyone wanted for him. It has commercial success while at the same time he didn't sell his soul to the industry. He gave it to us in the music. It was well worth the wait. Bada$$ is the epitome of real and his wisdom reaches far beyond his age. B4Da$$ will get 4.7 of 5 stars on the Ramsey Rating Scale.
Jonathan C. Ramsey
Jonathan C. Ramsey

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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