Joey Bada$$ has really evolved as an artist.
ALL AMERIKKAN BADA$$ is the first album properly and entirely politically charged for the young lyricist.
Aware of the fact that he’s actually got a Voice and that his lyrics may influence subconsciously or plain consciously the kids listening, here’s an opportunity to speak of truth while in the booth.
Rappers usually make a social commentary over their rhymes, but this time, Joey is being original proposing an actual debate. To do so, he opens the album with questions about Freedom and American Dream, and ends up with more unanswered questions on police brutality and the essence of the movement Black Lives Matter.
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 in any case 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, contemplation of cosmos and futuristic ideas.
2) Word is bond: FOR MY PEOPLE
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
Music is a form of expression I’ma use mine just to teach you a lesson
Rule one: this microphone’s a weapon
A melodious piece, mellow keys playing over smooth sample of saxophone… the music itself inspires peace of mind and calms the most belligerent spirits.
Joey Bada$$, just like Common (Black America Again), Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp A Butterfly) and many other, found freedom in free-styling and use their words to spread truth and stand for the ones on their knees.
From this song, Joey clearly means this album to be bigger than him. It’s not just about him, it’s about the people of his condition, it’s about the society he’s living as an individual, just like so many other black brothers.
Full aware of his audience and attention he gets throughout the country, wise of him to play an empowering role model.
It is time for him to inspire a resistance somewhat peaceful: despite the spiteful feels and anger towards white injustice and unpunished police actions, Joey decides to use to Words and Hip Hop as an act of resistance, as it used to be in the past (Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation).
In 2015 Kendrick Lamar’s Alright has been used as a protest anthem, proof that words and hip hop can serve a pacific resistance.
Joey, youngest rapper breaking records, is taking over with the will to stand as a new voice for the young and new generation.
3) Helplessness And Hopeless Feels: TEMPTATION
Hustle on the block, who gon’ save the children?
Man it’s all a plot and I’m just revealin’
The media just tryna make a villain
I just take the pain and a paint a picture
Voices in my head, I hear the whispers
When I feel this way, inhale the swisher
Or I sip the liquor, ah
This song quoting the words of this helpless young girl resonates a lot with the very first track of Joey’s debut studio album B4DA$$, Save The Children:
It’s all a hidden history of mysteries
I see vividly, hysteria Cause misery on the interior
As shit get more scarier, I’m never in fear
Just a little inferior in some areas
The media tend to make Black people feel inferior, guilty and vulnerable when they try to empower themselves, affirm themselves, and make a peaceful and descent living.
4) A Messenger On A Mission: Guiding His People To The LAND OF FREE
Sometimes I speak and I feel like it ain’t my words
Like I’m just a vessel channeling inside this universe
I feel my ancestors unrested inside of me
It’s like they want me to shoot my chance in changing society
We can’t change the world unless we change ourselves
Die from the sicknesses if we don’t seek the health
All eyes be my witness when I speak what’s felt
Full house on my hands, the cards
I was dealt Three K’s, two A’s in AmeriKKKa
I’m just a black spade spawn out the nebula
And everything I do is and say today is worthwhile
Will for sure inspire action in your first child, yeah
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.
Last year, while Common was releasing Black America Again, Alicia Keys made an album to depict the poverty in New York and tell The Gospel truth about the reality that people live everyday. This was a straight change from her song with Jay Z, Empire State Of Mind.
They disorganized my people, made us all loners
Still got the last name of our slave owners
In the land of the free, it’s full of free loaders
Leave us dead in the street to be their organ donors
They disorganized my people, made us all loners, yeah
5) A Song That Strongly Echoes With The Movement BLACK LIVES MATTER,
Kendrick Lamar’s TPAB And 2Pac: Y U DON’T LOVE ME
The track resonates with Kendrick’s single with the play of the drums.
Plus the ambient instrumental sets up all the hopeless and helpless feels expressed by the lyricist who’s “been hurt, been down before“.
In this dialogue, Miss Amerikkka keeps looking down at the Black boy who can’t feel as fly as he should be:
Why you can’t recognize my stride?
Always gotta minimize my pride
[…]I’ma say, “Namaste,” and just bloom
Finally, 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.
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.
7) Young Children Want To Live Wild And Free: 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.
We are so quick to pick up a gun and kill one another
But not quick enough to pick it up and protect each other
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
Or what about them? Them murderers got it
We need solutions, you better start plottin’ now
It’s always been clear that they don’t value our lives
My people been sufferin’ way too long
And I’m tired of singin’ the same old song
People actin’ like this shit isn’t happenin’, it’s downright wrong
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