This might be the most consistent and engaged album for Joey bada$$, even though he’s always been committed to his community.
1) A Freedom Talk For Woke People: GOOD MORNING AMERIKKA
Now, what’s freedom to you? Let’s talk about it, take a minute, think it through I’m all about it, but the concept seems new
The first track, smooth entrance to wake up with, has a sound made to be heard at the frontier between dream and reality.
The lyrics set a fine line between the daydreaming person and the Woke one,
Between the one walking in an illusion of freedom, ignorant or forgetful about his story
And the one full aware of the misery and sadness of the condition.
I came from
A dream That the black man dreamed… long ago
I’m actually a present sent to you By your ancestors
While the first song questions the idea Freedom, this final quote announces the answer Joey Bada$$ will find in his main track Land Of The Free where he states “[he’s] just a black spade spawned out the nebula.”
By this outro Joey Bada$$ not only quotes Sun Ra (from: Space Is the Place, 1974), but he also refers to the concept of Afrofuturism, aimed to critique the present-day dilemmas of black people, and to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past.
A concept that is not new to the likes of Erykah Badu or Janelle Monae (Archandroid, Electric Lady) who’ve explored the topics of modern slavery, freedom and African roots, combining music, ideas about cosmos and fantasy.
2) BLACK SUPER HERO MUSIC: FOR MY PEOPLE
This for my people, tryna stay alive and just stay peaceful
So hard to survive a world so lethal
Who will take a stand and be our hero, of my people, yeah?
This for my people
Tryna stay alive and just stay peaceful
So hard to survive a world so lethal
Who will take a stand and be our hero?
Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane
No, it’s the young black god livin’ out his dreams
What you mean? I been up on an ultralight beam
They don’t wanna see you fly, they just gonna shoot your wings
3) WORRIED ABOUT THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: TEMPTATION
I come here today to talk about how I feel
And I feel like that we are treated differently than other people
And I don’t like how we’re treated
Just because of our color doesn’t mean anything to me
Since the beginning, Joey Bada$$ has always been dedicated for the children.
The opening track of his debut album B4.DA.$$, Save The Children, is the proof of that.
Now he’s sampling the voice of this little child, sad about the current events in The USA (#BlackLivesMatter)
His young age and his spotlight puts him in a position to understand what the people of his age might feel about racism and continual discrimination to rise as a role model and stand as a voice for the youth and use words with wisdom.
Hustle on the block, who gon’ save the children?
Man it’s all a plot and I’m just revealin’
The media just tryna make a villain
I just take the pain and a paint a picture
Voices in my head, I hear the whispers
When I feel this way, inhale the swisher
Or I sip the liquor, ah
On another note, this song is a shot to Joey’s spirituality and views on religion.
This hyperbolic statement was his way to point out desperate people left with no options but prayers.
If you wanna make change, it’s gon’ take commitment
Some people enslaved by they religion
Can’t emancipate them from the mental prisons
Temptation is really a song made out of desperation about the same problems that have been going on for décades: racism and discrimination, lack of opportunities and lack of safety and protection.
Praying is all we might have, but actions are yet to be considered, without falling in the temptation to act reckless.
4) OPEN LETTER: THE LAND OF FREE
The Land Of Free ironically stands for The United States of America, which is actually a land for corruption,
A land where we still call White Privilege out, and we still point out the inequality of chances and prospects,
A land inhabited by generations carrying the name of their ancestors, or rather the name of their slave owners.
For the ones still picturing the American Dream, Joey Badass comes again to wake everybody up from their dream to reality (cf Good Morning Amerikkka).
While paying tribute to Biggie’s Juice instrumental vibe with the drums in the track, Joey reminds that these days the taste is no more for the American Dream.
What is more, by rapping:
I guess some things will never change
Locked in the cycle, tryna break the chains
Handcuffs so tight, nearly slit my veins
This what tough love feels like, feel my pain, uh
Joey refers to 2Pac’s iconic track Changes, concerned about racism and massive incarceration.
His song also echoes with Common’s Black America Again and the title Letter For The Free, which also deals with massive incarceration and slavery (cf 13th Amendment).
That way, the young MC points once again the injustice in the Judiciary System, and the fact that police targets sometimes systematically Black people as the thugs to arrest.
From Biggie Smalls, to 2Pac, to Common, Joey Bada$$ has been humble and giving tributes to the icons that he respects.
In his song Y U Don’t Love Me (Miss Amerikkka), he gives another tribute to another icon, for the new generation this time, Kendrick Lamar.
Indeed, you can hear the drum pattern in the song, similar to the one in Alright, a track that became a true protest anthem.
Besides Alright, the way Joey incorporâtes a woman in this piece echoes with the way Kendrick incorporated a woman as an allegory for America in For Free? (Interlude) – analysed previously.
In this song, the lady is looking down and Under-appreciating the black boy, talking to him like trash – “walking around like you’re God’s gift to earth; nigga you ain’t shit”.
Tell me why you don’t love me
Why you always misjudge me?
Why you always put so many things above me?
Why you lead me to believe that I’m ugly?
Why you never trust me?
Why you treat me like I don’t matter?
Why you always kicking my ladder?
5) AN ALBUM BIGGER THAN HIMSELF: (ALL) AMERIKKKAN IDOL
The closing track of this one of a kind album by Joey Bada$$ leaves a simple message on behalf of the Black Youth Joey Bada$$ want to stand for while sampling guitar chords sounding similar with Wiz Khalifa’s Young, Wild & Free: let the kids live in peace and free!
Quite like Vic Mensa would say in his poem politically charged song Shades Of Blue:
Everybody tryna be American Idols
My X-Factor is I’m the only one with The Voice
It’s bigger than us, these kids listen to us
This is what motivates Joey to make an album like ALL AMERIKKKA BADA$$.
This album is set to empower the helpless.
For a young Black boy (22 years old) with a Voice, remaining mute about it is giving reason to the oppression.
This album is a piece of a rapper rising as a young activist:
Sorry white Amerikkka, but I’m about to black out
Got a message for the world and I won’t back out
So turn the kid raps loud, I’m about to spazz out
However it all ends with a dark vision of the the situation, realistic yes, yet pessimistic at the same time.
Maybe willingly provocative to suggest the debate about solutions for more justice and better protection and the worth of Black people’s rights which are supposed to be as any Citizen.
Finally, Joey begins his album with a question (What’s Freedom to you?) and ends it with another question… his album is a whole politically charged conversation, a real debate.
The code words to killin’ a black man by police is, “He’s got a gun”
Damned if he do, damned if he don’t, damned if he runs
Justice won’t be served by a hashtag, and that’s the very reason I ask that
What are we to do? We’re scattered around
With no clue of this ugly truth