1999: Year Of The Bada$$
Do you know the intricate, message-carrying power and lyricism of the era in hip hop music known as the 90’s?
Looks like you’re in luck buddy.
Hailing from the heart of hip hop, New York and even more so residing in Brooklyn, which people outside of New York regard as the hip hop mecca (which is disputable, of course) comes a new emcee with an old soul.
His name is Joey Bada$$ and he has set the internet on fire with his latest free digital mixtape “1999”. The name of the album does sort of play as an omen for what the listener is about to delve into, with instrumentals taken sporadically from various New York jazzy hip hop hits and classics alike throughout the cherished decade of music. To offset the nostalgia of said hip hop hits, he does include in house production from his own auditory arts collective called “Progressive Era” which oddly enough includes originally produced tracks that capture the mid 90’s New York vibe, jazz samples and all. The standout cut from the original production that proves this point true is a track called “Fromdatomb” where both Joey and collective member Chuck Strangers trade verses over a smooth beat that switches from piano to saxophone to garner the attention of the listener.
But what about his other songs? Does he have anything else to offer than just the typical, aggressive and dominant rap lyrics?
Does his topics include strip clubs, The love for money or the overindulgence in the material things of this world?
Well, the answer is not necessarily, and this is why the young Brooklyn emcee has caught my attention.
He does dive into topics such as sex, lust and the finer things in life at times but not at the annoying rate that the rappers on your local radio station will achieve. His topics range from being a young male lusting for scandalous women and heartbreak with past relationships all the way to Making the conscious moral effort to find a certain “peace” in life and trying to keep a pure heart in the corrupted streets of Brooklyn. He keeps the album varied and full of human emotion which makes the listener see past the clichéd, age old image of the young black male trying to make it in the inner city and view him as an actual living breathing person who oddly enough is from the heart of the town. At times he may seem wise beyond his years and at others he may seem like your typical American teenager. Please note that this is not a bad thing. This gives the listener the chance to hear the inner thoughts of today’s youth and may even make the older crowd nostalgic about their teenage years where they were too young to be considered adults but way to old too be considered children. The listener gets to hear a first hand account of this Limbo that has been experienced by every living adult but has not yet been addressed in the hip hop community.
Go ahead, take a listen to the album if you want to take a break from the rap trap strip club music that you or someone in your proximity may have to endure day in and day out. What’s that? You don’t listen to rap music? Trust me, I don’t blame you but this may give you the chance to see the non-commercialized side of the art form, where the artist tell you their stories through spoken word and mellow tones.
Here’s a look from the tape’s breakout single “Waves” which is most likely the musical embodiment of who Joey Bada$$ is as a lyricist.
Image Credit: The Progressive Era