Album Review: Joey Badass - All AmeriKKKan Bada$$ | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Album Review: Joey Badass – All AmeriKKKan Bada$$

Alexis Adelaja reviews the politically-charged new record from Joey Badass

Jo-Vaughn Scott (AKA Joey Badass) is a 22-year-old rapper (and actor) from Brooklyn who rose to fame after a video of him freestyling on YouTube caught the right attention. Since then, the young rapper has gained a loyal following and has been busy making music as Badass as you’d expect. ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ is Joey’s second studio album and includes appearances from the likes of J Cole, Schoolboy Q and more. Considering the album title and the features, it was pretty evident from the start that this album would be more on the political side. This may make people a bit apprehensive but honestly, I jumped at the chance to listen to something that wasn’t just a few slurred bars about money and booty. Instead of opting for this shallow and superficial route that most contemporary rappers choose, Joey focuses on the police brutality, inequality and oppression that black people are subjected to in America. This album has no filters so prepare for the harsh reality that Joey reveals to you lyrically.

This album has no filters so prepare for the harsh reality that Joey reveals to you lyrically
Despite the serious topic, the majority of the album is far less aggressive than you’d expect. In fact, most of the songs have pleasant and calm harmonies supporting the devastatingly real lyrics. The first song, ‘GOOD MORNING’, sets the tone for the entire album. The smooth and easy beats blend seamlessly with Joey’s well-thought out lyrics and allows the listener to openly hear his feelings whilst still enjoying the music that he’s created. ‘FOR MY PEOPLE’ mirrors this dynamic but executes it differently to avoid any repetitiveness. By advocating togetherness and unity within communities, this song has an optimistic view-point which can inspire audiences whilst highlighting the fact that at this point, those who suffer these injustices are simply ‘Tryna stay alive and just stay peaceful’. Badass cleverly acknowledges the wide range of emotions linked to these matters and applies them to his songs differently. The contrast between the laid-back beats and the complex issues being addressed makes for… Some genuinely good rap music? Which is rather rare these days…

Badass also comments on the contradictory nature of America in ‘LAND OF THE FREE’ by rightfully saying ‘The land of the free is for the free-loaders’ and ‘Donald Trump is not equipped to take this country over’. This talented young man couldn’t care less about making an album that is essentially one massive middle finger to his country but who could blame him? What he’s expressing is the truth and Trumps America is not something to be in support of. This song in particular also showcases some of Joey’s influences with its twangy riffs which are reminiscent of old-school tracks.

‘ROCKABYE BABY’ featuring Schoolboy Q is definitely a change of pace for this album. The song itself comes with a slightly more rebellious feel that can usually be found in the beats that Schoolboy Q prefers. The somewhat menacing piano paired with ‘F*** DONALD TRUMP’ and Q’s hostile lyrics is far more provocative than the other songs. ‘RING THE ALARM’ also has cautionary words but this should be taken as an expression of the anger that these artists feel, rather than vicious propaganda. This form of rap is intended to be poetic so don’t allow the aggressiveness to take away from the message or the emotions associated with it.

This talented young man couldn’t care less about making an album that is essentially one massive middle finger to his country but who could blame him?

From the title of the album, you’d expect more of the tracks to promote this level of violence, however the fact that they don’t was a good choice on Joey’s part. It allowed him to find an equilibrium between stressing the inequalities African-Americans face living in Trump's America whilst still making insightful music. His approach allows the necessary weight of the subject to hit home hard as his lyrics slice through the buttery beats like a 1000-degree knife.

Even if you aren’t political or can’t empathise with the issues and feelings addressed in this album, you have to admit, it’s still pretty damn awesome. With the lyrical talent and the admirable musical production presented, any self-respecting rap lover wouldn’t dare deny this album the respect it deserves. Not to mention how refreshing it is to hear from a genuine rap artist who brings significance back to the genre.

21 year old third year student studying Psychology at The University of Birmingham.


19th May 2017 at 10:00 am

Last Updated

19th May 2017 at 1:18 pm