I first discovered Joey Bada$$ during the BET Cypher, Man With the Iron Fist. I was into A$AP and Bino Boy, and then heard Mr. Bada$$ just go ahead and rip some shit to shreds. I soon after got his debut album, 1999, and was – well, hooked.
I didn’t know much about how successful it would be, but I had a feeling that this album would attempt to be all about the chill, smoke a jibbly, and sit back on the couch with one hand laid up while a confused smile slowly crept across your face. You know, something in the nature of lounge-fu$$ing-music… while you smoke a Turkish Silver, drink a Hennessey and sprite while kicking it in a classy cigar lounge. Hit the G Pen in the bathroom, get a complimentary free spray of stink-em pretty, and tip the kind gent in the bow tie. Come back to your seat, only to spark a conversation with the girl next to you, who’s conveniently drinking a fine Scotch in her own refined manner.
Here’s my Real-Time reaction to this new album, B4.DA.$$. I will fire up G Pen or jibbly when fired upon. While giving my rating for each track is numbers of $’s.
Save The Children – The album starts like a concert, puts you smack dab right in the front row as Joey’s getting announced on stage. Gives you a real trippy beat. Mid-way, Joey B. starts rapping out of condenser microphone. Definitely a jibbly song to kick off the album. Real solid production right off the bat, too. $$$
Greenbax (Introlude) – Piano intro with a kid saying ‘selling candy, getting money, making the Greenbax.’ Very personal. “We’ll never be broke again” $$
Paper Trail$ – This sampleeeee though. “Cash Ruined Everything Around Me.” Stop. NYC. Ends with the line: “Before the money it was love, but before the money it was tough.” $$$$
Piece of Mind – Growing up in Flatbush. Brooklyn shit, Biggie shit. Hook = “What’s life like for me?” Ends with a phone call. “Oh you heard that shit?” $$
Big Dusty – “Check my style, check, check, check it out.” Check out the dark and creepy ass piano sample. Ends with a radio interview with some fella named Big Dusty. “My ma is by way of San Lucia and my pops is from Jamaica. So you know, I play pretty close to my roots.”
Hazues View – Very simple but really low beat, and the bass ropes you down the bunny hole hard. Goes into a brief reggae breakdown with the vocals, “Should I stay, should I go-oh. I don’t know, I don’t know.” $$$
Like Me (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid) – Remember what I said about cigar lounge music? The vocals at the end. Sheeeit. “Who produced this?” I remember thinking. I recall my freshman year English teacher saying you can never cite Wiki. Sorry Ms. Winkler. Per wiki, it was produced by: Pro Era members, Kirk Knight and Chuck Strangers, as well as Statik Selektah, DJ Premier, Hit-Boy, J Dilla, Samiyam, Basquiat, Freddie Joachim, and Lee Bannon. Works for me. The reggae ending is nastyyy. $$$$$
Bell of the Beast (feat Chronixx) – “It’s the Brooklyn child. The profound. Biggie would be proud about.” Killing it with the lyrics. Chronixx brings out the reggae vibe and it’s dope shit. Delay on the vocals at the end, though. Bruhh bruhh. “I’m a child of the city. Son of the streets.” If there was a Fender Strat playing soft reggae chords with some reverb to this, I’m saying. Cigar lounge. $$$
No. 99 – Much more upbeat & and in-your-face. “I’m rushin’ in like Vladimir Putin.” Hit that G Pen again. Number II on the G Pen on the night. Batting a modest .289 on the season is Gary G Pen. Forgive this awful ramble. Back to the lyrics: “Tryna make a dollar out of $forty-seven-cents.” Who hasn’t tried that? “Number 99, never trust no swine.” Hunter S. Thompson would be proud. $$$$
Christ Conscious – Mother suckaaaaa. This is definitely when you take an angry shot of Jack, because the Scotch drinking girl left without saying goodbye while you were on a bathroom break. So you pack your shit, head home, and emerge from the subway to the empty streets of Flatbush, with headphones on and your hoodie up. Look-over-your-shoulder type shit. $$$$
On & On (feat. Maverick Sabre & Dyemond Lewis) – Nice melodic keys to start. More muffled trumpets. And some hard echo and trance background shit going on. It’s only 12:04a.m., and fuck this walk home, I’m going back to the cigar lounge. G Pen hit III on the un-crowded street. Another Turkish Silver on the walk back to the Q train. $$$
Escape 120 (feat. Raury) – I’m all about those bass walks. Raury at the end is decent, but I’m more concentrated on the bass walks. $$
Black Beetles – Intro is a mix between some girl vocalist and the effects that Jimi Hendrix used on his guitar at Woodstock. Lyrics get pretty personal. Kind of a look into Joey’s life, you guessed it, B4.DA.$$. I would probably like this song better if it was the first track, instead of the 13th. Would have set a great tone for the entire cd. $$$
O.C.B. – I’m thinking this will definitely be an O.D.B. reference with the “Only Child Blues.” I do enjoy the fact he admits, “Every track is essential.” Hell yea, that’s how every artist should treat their music when putting together an LP. The sample sounds like it could be in an old Disney song. Just some strings playing a beautiful melody. Back at the cigar lounge, and you switch to a Grey Goose, rocks, dirty. “I used to want to be like O.D.B. Now I’m a rap star, O.M.G.” Ends with a sax solo. These little surprises and transitions from song-to-song are pleasant. $$
Curry Chicken – Curry Chicken. I could use some Chicken ‘n’ Rice. Oh well. If cigars didn’t give me a sinus infection, I would be inclined to buy one from the sharp dressed fella with the bow tie to curb my appetite. This is definitely a lounge tune. G Pen IV, ayeee. “Now I lay me down to sleep…” ends it. Heavy. Brings me back to childhood. My ma and I used to recite that prayer every night when I was a tike. $$
Run Up On Ya (feat. Action Bronson & Elle Varner) – BONUS. I ain’t mad. Featuring Mr. Wonderful. I don’t know if you saw that freestyle Action Bronson had on Funkmaster Flex last week, but I was waiting for this tune. Another easy going, bass-line driven tune. $$$$
Teach Me (feat. Kiesza) – BONUS TWO. LAST SONG. I can’t do any more shots. If that bourbon drinking girl would come back, there is a chance I would order a Jameson & Ginger, hold the Jameson, and re-spark some convo. But she ain’t going to be back. “Won’t you teach me how to dance,” says Bada$$. This song features Kiesza, who kills it with a catchy little, “Let me teach how to dance, how to dance” hook. Kind of makes me sad that bourbon girl didn’t stay. Jesus, did I say Bourbon? Clearly that looked like Scotch. She could probably have taught me how to dance.
I can definitely get down with this album. The production took a huge step forward from his previous two albums. It has a dark, eerie vibe all the way from top-to-bottom. If you like the old school Hip Hop beats and a fresh lyricist, definitely give this a once-through. Overall, I would give it: $$$$ / $$$$$
Written by Brendan Dimitri
OurVinyl | Contributor
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