The general consensus about Joey Bada$$ has always been that he is a remarkably talented up-and-comer with infinite promise. His devastatingly sharp lyricism and 90’s-influenced sound have caught, and effectively held, the attention of the hip hop community since the release of his first mixtape in 2012. At a time when hip hop is evolving at an incredibly fast pace, Joey’s nostalgic style offers listeners a much-needed sense of familiarity. Many listeners have even ventured to say that the twenty-year-old Brooklyn native has the potential to single-handedly revive classic East Coast hip hop, an opinion that often has more to do with his age than with an honest evaluation of his music.
With the release of B4.Da.$$, Joey Bada$$ has finally met the high expectations set for him by the hip hop community. While B4.Da.$$ is Joey’s first major label release, the album hardly feels like a debut. Joey had already established himself as a fresh new voice with his two widely-acknowledged mixtapes, 1999 and Summer Knights. While these two informal releases are certainly impressive, they lack the consistency and focus that Joey delivers on his new album.B4.Da.$$ is a triumphant debut that effectively blends elements of both classic and contemporary rap.
Instead of presenting one cohesive aesthetic or concept, Joey opts to display his versatility by exploring a wide array of sounds. This approach proves just how dynamic Joey is as an artist; he sounds equally confident spitting over hazy beats like “Black Beetles” and more frantic ones like “No. 99.” Joey’s adaptability is not only apparent in his musicality, but also in his lyricism. OnB4.Da.$$, Joey speaks on a variety of different subjects and strikes an excellent balance between playfulness and thoughtfulness. Listeners can practically hear Joey gaining more confidence asB4.Da.$$ progresses. His compelling debut serves as a testament to his vibrant musicality and lyrical agility.