Joey Bada$$ – B4DA$$ Album Review

When the Brooklyn native phenom collaborates with some of the greatest producers that Hip Hop has ever known (DJ Premier, J Dilla, The Roots, to name a few) you already know that the final product will be dope. Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott surpassed all expectations with his debut album.
His debut album was released on January 20, 2015, his 20th birthday – Just hours into his 20’s and Jovi bestowed us with B4D$$ (I thought we were supposed to give him a gift? ). Teenage Joey is gone, though the style that structured his rise to prominence is looking like its staying for good.

B4DA$$ is a fresh revelation of classic 90s boom bap rap. Instead of following the current trend of young rappers talking bout garbage like ‘coco’, ‘getting bitches’, ‘making millions off drug money’ – Jovi gives us truth. Throughout his debut album the young MC does not shy away from real issues like oppression, racism, and the mainstream music industry. We see the personal side of Badmon in songs like ‘Curry Chicken’, which is an ode to his mother, ‘Piece of mind’, paying homage to his locked up homie, and Hazeus View which is a touching exploration of losing his best friend and partner Capital Steeze.
The overall theme of the album is about his life before he had money. B4DA$$ has the qualities to merit its Illmatic comparisons (the benchmark of debut albums, and really the  benchmark of all albums).  It’s refreshing, in this world full of musicians cashing in on the latest fads, to see a young mind like Joey use his platform to inspire and ignite his fellow youth and the youth to come (save the children).

1. “Save The Children” prod. Statik Selektah
Powerfully named first song on the album, Jovi is using his platform to better his people. Statik starts the album off with a laid back, mellow beat and Joey goes in and does his thing and spits some sweet shit.

“Some cats get boxed in where they litter”

  • Very clever wordplay. Cats in the litter box and dudes getting killed (boxed in = coffin) in the place they are making worse (litter = garbage)

    “Somewhere we in the place
    Peace means harmony, not war and armory”
  • In the ideal world peace will bring happiness. His current world is very different though. Peace means wars … or war to achieve peace? (see U.S foriegn policy) Peace (freedom) does not exist but instead piece only exists. Guns over peace.

2. “Greenbax (Introlude)” prod. Lee Bannon

Kirk Knight and Joey lets us know that Pro era are here and staying for good.
“Whole damn world in the palm of my hands
Pro Era on the rise, man you tape that
We’ll never be broke again”

  • Clever use of tape and broke. To fix things that are broken some duck tape almost always helps.

3. “Paper Trail$” prod. DJ Premier

Jovi and legendary producer Premo team up once again and they brought the goods. Boom Bap beats are one of Joey’s favorite meal and he definitely ate up this Premo gem. Clever lines complimented with a catchy hook that represents the title and idea of the album B4DA$$.
“Before the money, there was love
But before the money, it was tough
Then came the money through a plug
It’s a shame this ain’t enough, yo”

  • Once you have money it is never enough that is the mortal curse of greed.

Wu Tang’s “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” loops but Joey gives us another version of C.R.E.A.M – cash ruined everything around me

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“This kid ain’t been the same since Biggie smacked me at my christening”

  • An ode to Notorious BIG line from Come Clean (“Oh my God I’m dropping shit like a pigeon
    I hope you’re listening, smacking babies at they christening”
    ) Biggie made the first version of the song in ’93 (officially released on Born Again in 1999). By the time Joey was born in ’95 so the dates match up. Maybe baby Jovi got slapped by the BIG Poppa.

One of my favourite tracks on the album. Joey + Premo will ALWAYS (quote me) drop some hot shit.

4. “Piece of Mind” prod. Freddie Joachim

Joey in true illmatic form gives us his own rendition of the nas classic “One Love”. The track starts with Joey on the phone with his locked up homie and letting him know EXACTLY how Joeys life’s like now. Smooth beat from Freddie and Jo flows perfectly over it.

Joey puts on display his lyrical ability using extreme detail in his lines
“Bet the streets lose a heart beat before the verse finish
But life goes on, basic rules still apply
Bet you can feel that line in any hood you live by
From Flatbush to Figg side, I was a schoolboy too
Hoppin’ trains, I just missed my Q”

  • Joey is saying people from streets (hoods) die so quickly (before the verse finish). But it happens everywhere, thats life. Anyone can relate.
    The good part. Joey is from Flatbush. School Boy Q (TDE) is from “Figg Side”. The Q train is the one Jovi used to catch to school and he often missed it. Haven’t we all.

“The misjudgment of our kind, who the odds is against
Put our backs on the fence, so we self defence
Followed by a series of unfortunate events
Looking like white America got a brother again”

  • refers to current major problems worldwide but the U.S in particular including oppression, injustice, incarceration and racism.

The second verse is very similar to the second verse of One Love.
Joey says: (2015) “Love you my nigga, word is bond, you’ll stay strong
Out in New York this same shit is goin’ on”

and Nas says: (1994) “Dear Born, you’ll be out soon, stay strong
Out in New York the same shit is going on”.

  • Its crazy how there is 21 years difference between them but THE SAME SHIT IS STILL GOING ON!

5. “Big Dusty” prod. Kirk Knight
In this song we hear a grimy, dark beat from a fellow Pro bruised with Joeys viscous flow. Filled with hard bars these ones are titanium.

“My flow in-depth nigga, I got my wave up
It’s either get your tidal waved, or you could be my neighbour”

  • A few parts to this. Water theme with “flow”, “in-depth”, “wave up” and Tidal Waved”. The flow is extensive and if you don’t give your title up and join him he will take it.

“Cause if I can’t eat, then you can’t either
I need to know, need the pizza dough, fuck I’m spitting ether for?”

  •  If he cant make money (eat) then he will MAKE sure you won’t either. Joey is in a hurry to make paper and needs to know if your going to join him or not. “Need the pizza dough” is a double entendre. 1 Needs money. 2 Kneads the dough.

6. “Hazeus View” prod. Kirk Knight

Another one of my favourites in the album. This shit is VIBES. Hazeus View is a mixture of Haze from the presumed weed smoke and Zeus (the Greek God). High Zeus View would be epic any way you can think of it. The way Joey pronounces “hazeus” is very similar to the name Jesus in Spanish.

Jazzy beat with a calculated flow and EXTREMELY catchy hook. Joey flexes his lyrical abilities in this song.

“Now that’s a real, real, real mind fuck
Might fuck up your mind if you’re lighting up
Make sure the ting is tight enough”

and

“You ain’t running with the apes yet
Apex at the empire state neck

  • Planet of the apes reference with Apes on the Empire State building. Saying competition isn’t up to his level, Pro Era at the top.

“Since my homie died, I been tryin to hold on
The happy days of my life is now all gone
But I cope with that weed I smoke and writing these songs
But it’s should I stay should I go? Oh!
Should I stay should I go? Oh!
I don’t know, I don’t know
Lord please let me know”

  • These lines will really resonate with you if you have ever lost someone. Joey gives an honest insight into his mind since he has lost Capital Steeze. He relies on weed and hiphop to take his pain away. Steeze died from suicide and those same demons are echoing in Joeys head. Hold on Badmon.

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7. “Like Me” (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid) prod. J Dilla, The Roots

This is probably my favorite song on the album. This song just takes me to a different place, a better place. Two legendary producers Questlove and Dilla (RIP) are credited with creating the smooth, vibing beat. Joeys voice and flow seems to perfectly intertwine with the instrumental, its like he was built for this.

In the start of the song Joey is showing off the versatility of his flow. Verse 1 he raps about destroying someone. Verse 2 and 3 he raps about smoking pot and handling business with a shawty. Inbetween verses BJ delivers a smooth compliment to Joeys verses.

then the track starts getting a lot deeper.

“we get high and say fuck the police”
BJ recites

In verse 4 Joey speaks his mind on a prevalent issue that has been plaguing America for years.

“Cause every time I make a move they be sweatin’ me
They want another black man in penitentiary”
– these lines turn the song around. Joey is speaking on the injustice Black American males face.

“I’m just tryna carry out my own legacy
But the place I call home ain’t lettin’ me”

  •  Joey wants to become the greatest rapper ever but he feels like his “home” (Flatbush, Brooklyn and America as a whole) isn’t letting him. This may be due his environment being destroyed by police brutality, racism, gang violence etc.

BJ then sings:
“I pray there’s hope for a nigga like me
Hope for a nigga like me
Just pray there’s hope for a nigga like me”

  • amidst all the pain that he has suffered due to his environment he doesn’t hold anger and resentment but instead hope … hope for a better future. “A nigga like me” is not only referring to one person but the disadvantaged as a whole.

Joey drops a crazy gem in verse 6:

“Yo some cats claim they fly but really been landed
I really can’t stand it
Let me take a seat, this where Rosa Parks her bum, now
Make some room for me”

  •  the word play is crazy. He is saying the game is over saturated and he cant stand it – (he had enough, wants to take a seat)
    Rosa Parks was a pioneer of her time. She refused to give up her seat to a white man (that was the law back then) and was arrested and convicted because of it (Jim Crow laws). She fought for freedom.
  • Joey cleverly uses Rosa’s last name as a verb. He is saying move over to Rosa because he wants to take a seat on the same bus (fight for freedom)

He then ends the song in a very powerful line

“i just wanna be free”

8. “Belly of the Beast” (feat. Chronixx) prod. Hit-Boy
This song is basically Joeys ode to his influences ranging from his Caribbean background and Biggie Smalls (who also grew up in Brooklyn)
Jamaican Reggae artist Chronixx is featured to sing the hook and the 2nd verse. Produced by Hit Boy this track sounds quite different to the others. This is a hard beat and Joey is able to just unleash on it.

It’s the Brooklyn sound, a pro found, Biggie would be proud about
But I don’t need a vet to even shout me out
Punchlines pack a Pacquiao they can’t box me out

  • Joey shouts out Biggie and says that the BK legend would approve. He doesn’t need a legend to co-sign him. He is comparing his skills to those of dominant boxer Manny Pacquiao, he’s not only unstoppable, they cant box him out (basketball reference)

9. “No. 99″ prod. Statik Selektah

Joey is out for heads. He comes with guns blazing on a viscous attack on the 1% (police and corporate leaders). Statik Selektah supplied the hard instrumental that seems to fuel BADMON. He is representing the people (99% also refers to the song title) and exposing the truth.
“We comin’ for groups of guys in suits and ties
Who choose to hide truth from the eye”

“Yo, this shit is intense, a dumb cop stoppin’ me, probably
Cause he’s still livin’ in the past tense, how shit was back then
They wanna see the downfall of all black men
And African,”

  • refers to the mindset of police in the eyes of Jovi. He feels like police and corporate heads are in conjunction to see the destruction of black men (police brutality, racism etc)

You can’t escape Joeys extreme wordplay.
“I got the blueprint to this shit, Jay to the Oh Vee
If Blue was a prince, I’m still Joseph Kony”

  • Jay Z had an opening line on Public Service Announcement from the Blueprint album “H to the O-V”
  • Joey puts his own twist on it (People call him Jovi)
  • Blue Ivy is Jay Z child and would carry on the legacy of “the king” and in turn be “prince” (Blue can’t be prince because she’s a girl)
  • Joseph Kony is a prominent figure who is accused of abducting children and turning them into child soldiers.
  • He compared himself to Joseph Kony = Joseph (joeys name) and K.O.N.Y (can be turned into KING OF NEW YORK)

10. “Christ Conscious (Toroidal Flow)” prod. Basquiat

If Joey came with guns blazing in the last song, he came strapped with military grade rockets this track. With no regard for life Jovi just straight spits fire. Basquiat brought a hard monotone beat to the battle. This song is filled with clever lines and hard bars.

11. “On & On” (feat. Maverick Sabre & Dyemond Lewis) prod. Freddie Joachim

Jovi gets deep with this song. He spits with a calculated flow telling the world he is here and he is here for a reason. Jovi was sent to deliver the truth. Freddie Joachim supplies the soul and smooth beat. Fellow Pro Era member Dyemond Lewis spits a featured verse while UK artist Maverick Sabre delivers the intro, and the hook:

“The omnipresence is omnipotent
But I keep going, ’til it’s all said and done
I show all my soul purpose but I’m pretty sure there’s one
There’s a reason why I’ve come, new season’s just begun
This the death of a psychopomp but a birth of God’s son”

  • the first line bascially means God is powerful and everywhere
  • Psychopomps act as a guide and escort newly deceased souls from Earth to the afterlife
  • Joey belive whe was put on this earth for a purpose to lead his people to the truth.

The second verse starts off with Jovi having a dream that he was dead and buried. He then delves into some topics that make him seem vulnerable. Undeterred by life’s tribulations Joey carries on.

“Though STEEZy told about me, yo I know he always watching
I guess there really is a heaven for us hip hoppers
I really miss my partner
But I know he with Big Poppa, 2 Pacs, and the big L rolled proper
And that’s a big pun, know that I’mma join him
When my time come, but the story just begun, so”

  • Steeze was Joeys best friend and one of the original members of Pro Era, he committed suicide that shocked the world and especially Joey.
  • Jovi feels contempt that there is a heaven for rappers (see Tupac – I wonder if Heavens Got a Ghetto)
  • He uses clever world play in the “and thats a big pun”
  • Big L is a legendary deceased rapper and big l is slang for a big joint
  • Big Pun is also a deceased rapper who went by the name Big Punisher

Dyemond Lewis holds his own on verse 3 and you can tell by his lines that there is a sense of raw honesty and vulnerability, followed by his approach to independent rappers holding their artistic integrity.

12. “Escape 120″ (feat. Raury) prod. Chuck Strangers
Joey is caught in a rough mind state at the moment and he wants to escape. 120 is the date of his Birthday January 20th. Chuck Strangest came through with a crazy funky beat which he believes is his favorite beat that he has made for Joey.

The pressures of fame and the album have gotten to him. He is hurt that the fame and money has caused him to stray away from what was close to his heart (e.g family, friends and his girlfriend) but he has to hold it down for Pro era and make sacrifices to become the best.

The struggle is getting too much for Joey in verse 2. He is contemplating suicide and wonders whats over the bridge.
Whats heaven’s capitol like, like, li-like
Maybe I can crash tonight, night, night
Cause I’m trapped inside this hell, hell, hole
God, please answer your cell, cell, phone

  • he is calling God but isnt getting a response

Raury brings a different kind of energy in his verse but destroys it. He speaks on the topic of money changing people’s perception of him, but it will never change who he is and who he will be.

13. “Black Beetles” prod. Chuck Strangers

“Whats a black beetle anyway, a fucking roach?” – Kanye West, Gorgeous

This song is one of the darker songs on the album. Jovi explores sensitive ideas like the death of his homies, self esteem issues and the rap game. Fellow Pro Chuck Strangers arms Joey with a dark, slow track.

In Verse 1 Joey opens up about his insecurities and sometimes wishes he wasnt the rap star he was and could live a normal life. This isn’t the life that he always dreamt it would be, the struggle of being a rap star is getting to him.

Joey mentions 3 prominent and inspirational black figures of the world in verse 2 in Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley.

Who would’ve thought a marchin’ Martin could spark a starvin’ artist

  • Martin Luther King and his march inspired a poor rapper into doing something bigger for himself.

Smoking herb with just Marley and me
This one is for my dogs barking up on the tree
Sometimes that wind blows eventually she gon leave

  • This is some of the best word play on the album
  • Joey is saying he is smoking pot with Bob Marley and its also a double entendre referring to Marley being a dog (Marley and me is a book about a Dog called Marley)
  • This adds onto the next line “for my dogs barking up on the tree” it is a double entendre again shouting out his homies talking cos of the pot they smoked
  • The last lines ties them both together “sometimes the wind blows” (weed smoke) and “she gon leave” (leaves fall from the tree)

14. “O.C.B.” prod. Samiyam, The Soul Rebels

OCB = Only Child Blues. Jovi is his mothers only child (Though he does have step brothers and sisters). In this song Joey drops wisdom and reflects on his younger days, growing up an “only child” which lead one to developing their own thoughts early.

Badmon details that he gave his mind to hiphop to deal with loneliness from his parents not being around. This led Jovi to put his time and effort into becoming a rap star.

“Give a fuck about hundreds
As long as it’s for my mental”

  • He doesn’t care about the money as long as the content has substance

“Knowledge that some can’t get to
Understanding that college is only out for a nickel”

  • The education system is more worried in making money than educating kids

15. “Curry Chicken” prod. Statik Selektah
Teaming up with Statik Selektah is always a good idea. He perfectly creates a soulful beat that is perfect for Joeys ode to his family.

Joey thanks his mother in verse 1, crediting her for keeping the family afloat while they were poor. She is reassured not to worry anymore cos her boy has made it and money will never be a problem again. All Joey wants is to be with his family and enjoy “chicken curry” (reminds him of when he was poor and when he had to do what was necessary to survive.)

In verse 2 he speaks on the possibility of him falling in the trap of selling drugs and gang banging that has claimed many of his own. He has always known since birth that he was gonna be a star and make a difference.

Our Rating

9

Any love for Joey?