New album impresses

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B4. DA. $$. album cover

Peter Conway
Staff Writer

Joey Bad came out with his well-anticipated debut album, B4. DA. $$. on January 20, 2015, and I am in between impressed and concerned.  Impressed because his raps are better than ever, and I don’t believe there is much space to argue that. However, concerned because it doesn’t seem like his style is expanding, but rather staying stagnant.

Other Hip-Hop artists like J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar are clearly improving and trying to create something new with every song they release. If Joey Bada$$ wants to be put in the same category he has to learn how to reinvent himself with every album/mix tape he makes.

That being said, I must give credit to this album, because although its not necessarily progressive, the music is incredible.

The song Paper Trails captures the whole idea behind the album- money. It talks about how every one is out for the money and since everyone else revolves around it; money is his mission.  He raps about how his main goal is to get the money he never had as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York.

He repeats the words, “Before the money there was love/ But before the money it was tough”, at the beginning and end of the song.

To me, it reflects the message behind the album mainly because it says it right there in the lyrics. Before the money. Where was Joey Bad before the money? That’s what I, and many other listeners, were looking for.

One track that I find gives some insight on his life is O.C.B., which stands for, “old child blues”.  Based on the songs I have heard by him, this really is the only song that gives any information on his childhood. For that reason I think its a step forward for him as an artist because I find it key for an artist to connect themselves emotionally to their piece of work.

The lines that really set an image in my head for me during this track were, “I remember sitting in my room/ Staring at the ceiling fan/ Getting in my zone/ Momma was never home/ Woke up one morning poppa was gone/ Young and lost/ So I eased my mind”.

He goes on rapping about how this led to the writing of his first lyrics, which is interesting to understand where and why his career started for him.

There are two songs on this album that are almost unreal if you are talking about his flow, Christ Conscious and Hazeus View. These two tracks get me going, there is no doubt. But like I said,  there was some problems with expansion of self, and it is evident in these songs along with several others. It’s the same flow he has always had. If I tossed either one of these songs on any of his other mix tapes, you wouldn’t see any difference in style.

My favorite song on this album is On & On. The reason I think I like this song so much is because there is a clear attempt at trying something different within the beat. Typically his beats are more old school, but here he demonstrates the versatility that I was expecting on this album.

I felt every word that came from Joey in this song, was real and genuine.

One verse in particular that stood out to me went, ” Happiness is temporary/ Thats the way it always has been/…/ I always spread love/ But sometimes I sin/ I only trust some/ Thats why I only keep a few friends”.

I also appreciated the idea he suggested when he gave a shout out to his deceased friend and former member of Pro Era, Capital Steez. He suggests the idea of rappers heaven, which is an idea that artists such as Tupac  Shakur and Nas have written about prior.

He sings, “Though Steezy told about me, yo I know he always watching/ I guess there really is a heaven for us hip hoppers/ I really miss my partner/ But I know he with Big Poppa, 2 Pacs, and the Big L…/”.

Although I criticize the lack of progressiveness in the album B4. DA. $$., I still feel Joey Bad has created something spectacular. He did make a couple of small steps forward artistically, and the way he put words together was out of this world. Joey Bad has amazing talent, and this album is a must listen.