These days, it is challenging to come across a new hip-hop album that doesn’t have SOME allusion to social injustice and the struggle against political oppression. More often, it’s not even that subtle. Numerous artists (Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Vic Mensa) have conceptualized entire projects on this idea. So when Joey Bada$$ released his album title—All AmeriKKKan Bada$$ (not a discrete allusion to Ice Cube and Capital STEEZ’S stylization of “America”) not many were surprised.
Perhaps we should have been.
Here is why Joey Bada$$’s All AmeriKKKan Bada$$—an album fueled by political oppression—breaks the mold.
Gentle recognition of Notorious B.I.G.
“Land of the Free” is arguably the album’s heart and soul—it’s most concentrated message where he breaks down exactly what it is like to be a black man in the current condition of the United States. The beat is eerily reminiscent of old Biggie tracks. Biggie, of course, was one of the most politically influential rappers and—not coincidentally—shares a hometown with Joey.
You told to follow suit, but tell me what it do for you?/Except weigh you down, now you trapped inside the cubicle they built for us/The first step into change is to take notice/Realize the real games that they tried to show us/300 plus years of them cold shoulders/Yet 300 million of us still got no focus.
Joey Bada$$’s debut album, B4.DA.$$ had lots of reverb, adjustments, and other modulations to his voice. The tone of this album became quickly iconic. In All AmeriKKKan Bada$$, however, much of these alterations have been substituted by raw vocals with dense meaning.
Holy cross on my back got a bullseye on it/I gotta get stoned to fulfill my moment/Oppress my oppressor, suppress the opponent/Channel my ancestor, he wouldn’t condone it/In search of the healin’ component/Said you would notice if you took notice/But you too nosey, better wake up.
It’s no secret that a single listen to Joey Bada$$ can bring a hip-hop enthusiast back to the days of Nas and Pac. This was mainly the inspiration between his 2012 mixtape 1999. Another aspect quite reminiscent of 90’s flow, however, is his condensed lyrical substance with each bar.
‘Til I fall out my physical, all my verses is biblical, uh/Flowin’ religiously, my delivery spiritual, uh/Feelin’ invincible, this here is nothin’ new/This is just principle, take notes, if I were you/They say I’m a clumsy king, how I be droppin’ jewels/But see, the funny thing is I got lots to lose.
All AmeriKKKan Bada$$ is fresh, fierce, and full-bodied. It truly allows listeners to keep excitedly awaiting these new albums for new perspectives of unjust struggle. It is one more medium to spread the discussion. In our current political climate, nothing is more important.
We aint got no one to trust / Time is running up, feel the burn in my gut / and if you got the guts scream ‘fuck Donald Trump!
Featured image via YouTube.