Wisdom seems to come with age for most of us mortals, but for Joey Bada$$ it’s something engrained in his character as much as his veracious quest to bring light and affect positive change into the world. Enlightened since his days as a youth, Joey B has been on the trail to becoming one of the most talented, highly intellectual MCs the game has ever seen. He’s posted casually, his dark, mini-dreads poking enticingly from under his slate-grey hat. On his chest hangs a small, singular chain with the late great Capital Steez's crown emblem.
As an educated, highly conscious individual, Joey Bada$$ is a rare, unique and important part of the culture we hold dear. “I’m a threat to the government,” he says bluntly, “I’m a 22 [year old] young, black male who’s very aware and enlightened about his surroundings, and I’m sharing it with my fans. So the fact that I could be a voice to educate them, oh yeah, I’m a big threat. I’m not scared, this is what I was put on the earth for.”
And that’s exactly what he’s been doing with his time here. With his latest ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ project, Joey has catapulted himself to be amongst the very top of the vicious, lyrical and consciously adept MCs in hip-hop today. With that he’s put pressure on his many peers and collaborators, asking them how they are going to use their voice for any real good, or whether their art is even capable of creating serious change in the first place.
Hailing from the Brooklyn borough of New York City, Joey Bada$$ had a unique outlook in the reception of one this year’s most anticipated albums, Jay-Z’s 4:44.
“It’s sounds just like [Bedstuy] the neighbourhood, it’s the soundtrack. Honestly, I feel I was an inspiration to that album, I know I was an inspiration to that album, there’s nothing nobody can tell me. I put certain pressure on these OGs in the rap game, they know what they gotta talk about now. I’m glad he spoke on everything he spoke on.”
The cognizant, third-eye characteristics of Joey Bada$$ has brought him close to others who share his insightful take on the world. By the age of 16 he’d met and become close to people like Ab-Soul, “that’s my soul brother, he got ’47’ tatted, that’s a brother for life,” and to a lesser degree, Kendrick Lamar.
“Kendrick represents authenticity, he represents real rap, real artistry. There’s a long list of what he represents. I appreciate him for being here. Before we had him we was really in a critical condition,” he says with a laugh.
Joey’s down to earth, perceptive approach to creating art and sharing strong visual, lyrical and sonic messages with fans is extremely powerful. It’s breaking boundaries in the industry everyday. People like Lupe Fiasco were once chastised for their political approach to the game, but Joey Bada$$ is refusing to let his voice be stepped on, and is pioneering a path for young, enlightened individuals to make real change within their communities and at large. Though there are still things he’s learning himself, reminding us of what we often forget, that he is still just a mortal man.
“What I do know about love is, it is open, it is honest and it is completely organic. You can feel it when it’s not. I guess it’s all an energy thing but I don’t got an answer to that, I wish I did.”