Joey Bada$$ (feat. Diddy) – “The Baddest”

Joey Bada$$ stays delivering headnodders.

I’ve been coming back to this listen off 2000, the latest from NYC spitta Joey Bada$$, and his first album in five years. Joey’s a rapper I tend to revisit every so often. Like many, I originally caught on back in 2012 over his absolutely bonkers cut Survival Tactics” with Capital STEEZ (RIP)…two high school kids spitting straight fire over a savage beat from L.A. rap group Styles of Beyond.

A decade later, Joey’s got his lane down pat, employing soulful production with a twinge of nostalgia for ’90s New York rap and delivering slick bars packed with thoughtful, far-reaching ideas. It’s pretty dope seeing Joey deliver on the immense promise he showed on his notable 2012 debut mixtape 1999. I particularly enjoyed his previous effort, 2017’s All AmeriKKKan Bada$$, a very focused meditation on Black peoples’ complex relationship with the United States.

2000 is a sequel to 1999 (well, duh), and a joint I’ve been bumping here and there over the past few. There’s some solid listens to be found throughout 2000, particularly the striking moment of grief and remembrance for STEEZ on “Survivor’s Guilt,” but in particular, I’ve really been digging the album’s opener, “The Baddest.”

Featuring the legendary Bad Boy himself, Diddy…who does…uh, background vocals (of course), “The Baddest” is smooth! I love how stripped back this track is, bringing in fantastic piano playing (which Joey claims he did himself!) and finger-snaps as Joey picks up where he left off, providing a dope and relaxed reintroduction. I love the callouts to NYC and the subtle references to DeBarge‘s “I Like It,” along with the lack of a beat til the end. It’s a moment of subtle, refined confidence.

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