The longer I sit with All AmeriKKKan Bada$$, the latest record from Brooklyn emcee Joey Bada$$, the more I’m uncovering. It’s a calm and composed contemplation on what America means for a Black person in 2017, and having it on repeat for the last few days I’ve got to give it to Joey, he’s got wisdom beyond his 22 years. But hey, if you’ve been following him for a minute, you could already tell. Since blowing up the spot in his teens back in 2012 with his Pro Era compatriots (Rest in peace, STEEZ), Joey has become a breakout star for his sharp lyricism, charisma, and attitude, coming out like the next logical step for NYC rap. Over the past few years Joey has forged an impressive path, with some solid music, great collaborations, and the smarts to carry him through the game. He’s a pretty talented artist, and you can tell he’ll be around for a while.
And with All AmeriKKKan Bada$$, he’s making good on his promise. His second proper LP has the emcee thinking deeply about the thorny, convoluted issues of race and history in America, concerned that in 2017, not a whole lot hasn’t changed over the past century when it comes to segregation, incarceration, and violence on black bodies. Of course, Obama didn’t mean the end for racism, and now with Trump in office the situation is looking a bit more bleak. His feelings are complex and often disjointed, at odds with each other across the record. He struggles to reconcile the feelings for America, good and bad, and searches for solidarity and strength for himself and his people living day to day in a place that eats its young, and that’s before we even get into the new age Jim Crow.
“For My People” is a terrific listen, as Joey implores his people, and everyone out there in the struggle, to keep their head up. One of the more positive tracks on the record, I’m enjoying how reassuring this listen is. It’s like a weight off your shoulders, where, for just a minute, you can see brighter days ahead.