There are very few 21-year-old rappers who have made an impact in the music-scene scene quite like Joey Bada$$ has. The leader of the Pro-Era collective has stood out as the front-man since it’s early days that first evolved in 2011 thanks to Powers Pleasant and the late Capital Steez who passed away in December of 2012. Since then, Pro-Era has grown into nothing short of a hip-hop powerhouse that now includes the likes of Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution, Chuck Strangers, Dessy Hinds and several others of Brooklyn’s rising young artists. At age 17, Joey released his debut mixtape “1999” in the Summer of 2012 that received positive reviews for its unique style of sampling and an early 90’s hip-hop vibe we’ve grown accustomed too from the Brooklyn native. The following year, Joey would release his third mixtape “Summer Knights” which included an all-star team of producers with contributions from Smoke DZA, The Alchemist and DJ Premier. Fast-forward to 2015, where Joey let loose his long-awaited debut album “B4.DA.$$” in January while on his “B4DAMONEYTOUR” which saw it debut at number 5 on the Billboard 200 charts and, in my opinion, was his best work so far.
I had the chance to check out Joey in October at Schoolboy Q’s Blank Face Tour in Vancouver, British Columbia. As soon as the Brooklyn kid hit the stage, he created an authentic, energy-charged atmosphere while frequently returning to his old tracks that played a huge part in his early success. Besides the sub-par acoustics and sub-par venue, Joey created the ultimate vibe with 90’s-inspired sound and hard-hitting tracks which helped lay the foundation for ScHoolboy’s performance who, without a doubt, puts on for his fans every time.
With that being said, I wanted to share my picks for 5 Songs that made you a fan of Brooklyn’s finest, Joey Bada$$.
What better way to start out the list than with one of his most recent joints in “Devastated.” The smooth, catchy single was dropped in May of last year on the Pro-Era Youtube page and was given a stunning visual 3 months later. Also, the production was handled by a notable trio that included Powers Pleasant, Kirk Knight and Adam Pallin who all contributed in the track which peaked at number 47 on the U.S. R&B charts. Not only was the song an instant hit, but it also outlined a deep-rooted message of hardship, dedication and hope which Joey had faced in his come-up. All in all, “Dedicated” was an introduction to Badmon for several new Joey-fans, in which he showed his ability to deliver an R&B classic that can attract listeners of every genre.
Directed by: OG Swank & Shomi Patwary
4. CHRIST CONSCIOUS
This list simply could not be complete without shedding some light on Joey’s debut album “B4.Da.$$.” While every song on the 15-track effort could be a standout, the one that broke through and slapped unlike any other had to be “Christ Conscious.” The energetic single was dropped months before the release of the album but remained one of the hottest tracks we’ve seen from Joey since his emergence. Why? Because it’s 3 minutes of Joey showcasing his unmatched lyricism where he’s able to lay down countless bars about his microphone killer-persona. Brooklyn-based producer Basquiat contributed to the bass-filled heater that is only more proof of Brooklyn’s young potential in the music scene.
Directed by: M-I-E
Joey’s debut single and arguably the hottest track on his “Summer Knights” EP had to be “Unorthodox.” For this one, Joey let loose his trademark 1990’s hip-hop style which sounds like it could have easily banged in Brooklyn’s Mos Def- days. Not only was the DJ Premier-produced song an instant hit, but it was early proof that Joey Bada$$ has some of the grittiest verses in the hip-hop scene and a style some would simply call “unorthodox.” (Not to mention the trippy cartoon visuals in the music video.) Nevertheless, it was no surprise that he found himself on the 2013 XXL Freshman list beside ScHoolboy Q and Travis Scott that same year. Pro-Era was really only just getting started.
Directed by: Coodie & Chike (Creative Control)
2. 95 TIL INFINITY
Once again, we have even more evidence of Joey’s takeover in the Summer of 2013. “95 Til Infinity” was also included on the “Summer Knights EP” and saw contributions from Lee Bannon (now known as Dedekind Cut) who helped in producing the smooth, wavy track that gave a nod to Souls of Mischief’s debut album “93 Til Infinity.” In this track, Joey expresses his love for the 90’s style of rap while cruising his hometown streets and even buying chicken from his favorite food spot in the OG $wank-directed cut. Even though the track is almost 4 years old, it’s evident that Joey has always stuck to his unique style that attracted his early listeners so many years ago.
Directed by: OG $wank
1. SURVIVAL TACTICS
I would be lying if I said this wasn’t the hottest song Joey has ever put out. In the simplest of terms, “Survival Tactics” is straight fire and was one of Joey’s first hits in 2012 that showcased the true potential of his ability alongside his close friend Capital Steez who passed away later that year. The Vin Skully-produced joint was heavily influenced by Joey’s childhood and how crucial it was to know how to survive in his hometown. On top of that, Badmon and Steez both expressed their dislike for police and the corrupt politicians on Wall Street. “Survival Tactics” remains one of the most energetic Joey-tracks that have emerged in the last 5 years, and while we anxiously wait for his sophomore album “AABA” to drop in 2017, we can only expect more energy-laced music for us to enjoy.
Directed by: Creative Control