Joey Bada$$ - 2000 Music Album Reviews

Joey Bada$$ - 2000 Music Album Reviews
The Brooklyn rapper’s first new studio album in five years puts a plush Bad Boy veneer over corner-bred rhyme schemes. Wide-ranging production makes it easy to ignore the rough spots.

Joey Bada$$ was just 17 when he released his landmark 2012 mixtape 1999, and he was simultaneously looking to the past and the future. Hip-hop’s blog era had its fair share of revivalists, but this was a Brooklyn kid who worshipped at the altar of luminaries like Wu-Tang Clan and MF DOOM and opened his debut single “Waves” with an ode to one of his borough’s most celebrated rappers. There was an urgency to Joey’s words, rhyme schemes, and flows that split the difference between the fresh and the familiar. When he raps about wanting to meet JAY-Z, buy his mother a Range Rover, and take over the world over a swelling Freddie Joachim sample, you believe him. He was taking a similar stance to Nas on his 1994 debut Illmatic: an old soul with a young face, unstuck in time like a multiversal traveler.

By honing the vintage aesthetic and skill, Joey and the Pro Era collective granted their movement some edge, the kind that leads the children of former presidents to rock your gear. But as his ambition and profile began to grow, he often struggled to reconcile his love for the golden era with distinctive, modern sounds. All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, his 2017 album, mixed lush live-band production and political consciousness with roughneck flows and the bland platitudes of his platinum-certified single “Devastated”—a pleasant but messy shot at being all things to all people. Joey’s been in the spotlight long enough to see the old-school ethos he made his name on experience a revival in both the underground and mainstream and even star in an Oscar-winning short film. But though his rap fundamentals are as solid as ever, that middle ground has become a niche, breeding enjoyable but unchallenging music.

To its credit, 2000, his third studio album and first in five years, tries to move past those growing pains. On intro “The Baddest,” Joey looks back on his first decade in music, placing himself among the likes of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole with an unfazed chill, amplified by the lush piano interpolation of DeBarge’s “I Like It”: “You niggas thought I was finished? I’m offended/I’m just getting replenished/MCs gettin’ diminished when I’m in attendance.” You’ve heard Joey rap like this before, but the scope is plusher, a Bad Boy veneer slathered over corner-bred rhyme schemes. “Baddest” sets the stage for 2000 which, as a whole, blends in with the posh New York rap zeitgeist. He’s jogging in place in the flashiest tracksuit he could find.

Joey thrives when he stops overthinking and just floors the gas. The surface-level social justice polemics of All-Amerikkkan dragged down that project’s best moments, and they’re thankfully absent from 2000. Much of what makes the album exciting on a technical level has been retrofitted from 1999, which soared on personal stories and thesaurus-stretching feats of rhyme. A song like “Brand New 911” is pure flow, the snap and tone of bars like “They resent me ’cause I’m counting all these blessings heaven sent me” harmonizing with producer Chuck Strangers’ harsh snares and flailing trumpet. His words cut deeper when he dips back into autobiography, recalling his cousin writing his first rap for him on “Where I Belong” or talking about passing down good traits to his daughter on “Written in the Stars.” When the flow and feelings combine, as they do on the gut-wrenching Capital STEEZ ode “Survivors Guilt,” it’s easy to root for Joey.

But some of those old habits gnaw away at his songwriting, too. Neither 1999 nor his 2015 studio debut B4.Da.$$ were above leaning on cliché, and 2000 sometimes does this with moneyed swag rap. “Cruise Control” and “Zipcodes” are filled with flavorless boasts that any rapper could’ve spitballed in the booth. On “One of Us,” Joey’s bare-bones flexing is upstaged quickly by guest Larry June, who’s the gold standard for rappers making luxury sound as attainable as logging in with Face ID. When a skit from “One of Us” involving a man calling Joey to ask him to stop sleeping with his soon-to-be fiancée bleeds over into the love song “Welcome Back,” he just…raps about sleeping with this poor guy’s soon-to-be fiancée. It’s uncomfortable even before Chris Brown starts cooing “Blow your back out like I should” on the hook. And that’s separate from the just plain bad bars sprinkled across the album—“Swimming mainstream like a hip-hop-potomus” from “Eulogy” and “My stock like a teenage cock, it stay up” from “Written in the Stars” are tortured metaphors that should’ve never left his Notes app.

The wide-ranging production often makes it easy to ignore the rough spots. Classy instrumental interpolations (Chris McClenney and Erick the Architect’s piano-led strut on “The Baddest,” every Statik Selektah beat here) sit next to glossy boom-bap (Chuck Strangers’ “Wanna Be Loved”) and crossover beats (Mike WiLL Made-It’s “Cruise Control,” BBEARDED’s “Welcome Back”). It’s a testament to Joey’s growing ear that he sounds good on all of them.

But it’s not surprising Joey knows how to ride this kind of material—many of these beats aren’t appreciably different from the ones that dominated the Pro Era/Flatbush Zombies/Underachievers supergroup Beast Coast’s 2019 album Escape From New York. Familiarity isn’t a bad thing, but it’s underwhelming considering the hype behind Joey’s first album in half a decade. Not only is 2000 the first album he’s released since fully committing to acting on shows like Mr. Robot and Wu-Tang: An American Saga, but it’s also directly tied to the 10th anniversary of 1999. It’s a considerable amount of buildup considering that Joey is doing the bare minimum: meeting his standard for rapping and expanding his horizons just far enough to properly integrate into the modern hip-hop rat race.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Joey Bada$$ - 2000 Music Album Reviews Joey Bada$$ - 2000 Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, July 29, 2022 Rating: 5

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