In today’s unfortunate times of social divide, music has become more important than ever. As one of the most essential vehicles of expression, music has given people the opportunity to know that their idols are feeling the exact same thing they are. Joey Bada$$ has always been one to speak his mind, but on his second album All AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, he’s using his platform to talk about what’s going on not in his life, but in black America.
The most noticeable thing about AABA is the change of direction not only lyrically, but production-wise. The ’90s boom bap beats are still there in essense, but the music is more pop than ever before, as is Joey’s rapping style. Gone for the most part are his gritty, fast-paced raps from earlier projects such as Summer Knights and his debut album B4.DA.$$. In it’s stead is slower, less intense songs with more focus on hooks, as evident in songs like “TEMPTATION” and “FOR MY PEOPLE.”
While Joey’s decision to tone it down to address more important issues are commendable, they don’t seem to stick as much as his earlier music does, especially when he incorporates pop-heavy hooks. Joey’s at his best when he’s violently spitting bars over Golden Age hip hop beats, and there’s not enough of those on here, especially in the first half of the record. The back half is definitely more rap-heavy, with songs like “AMERIKKKAN IDOL” and Pro Era posse cut “RING THE ALARM” standing out. However, longtime fans might end their listening session yearning for more from the 22-year-old rapper, assuming the messages of the songs don’t mean that much to them as others.
There’s a lot to like on this record. The production is great and Joey’s raps are inspiring and prove that there’s potential there for him to progress past the boom bap, ‘dusty’ category he’s been placed in ever since his come up five years ago. However, ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ stumbles at times because Joey seems out of his comfort zone during the most important parts of it. Credit him for taking a risk musically, but you have to wonder what this album would be like if he hadn’t.
7.4 – 10