Words About Music
Joey Bada$$ “Summer Knights”
One of the most exciting up-and-comers in the rap game is way better than his silly stage name would suggest. Last year, New York teenager Jo-Vaughn Scott released his debut mixtape, titled “1999,” at the age of 17, and it immediately took reviewers by surprise. Not only were they surprised that a teenager called Joey Bada$$ could release a great mixtape, they were also surprised that he could so easily summon the feel and sound of late 90s New York boom-bap. A lot has happened for Joey since he released 1999: he’s released another solo mixtape, a mixtape with his group PRO ERA, and lent a verse to A$AP Rocky’s posse cut “1-Train,” alongside Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T., and Yelawolf.
“Summer Knights” is the new mixtape from Joey, and his first since the tragic suicide of fellow PRO ERA member Capital Steez. Summer Knights was originally supposed to be an EP that would preview his upcoming debut full length album “B4.DA.$$,” but the project quickly became a 17-song mixtape. While this one has not quite received the same praise that 1999 received—or for that matter, PRO ERA’s “Peep: The aPROcalypse”—I feel like this is without a doubt one of Joey’s best works yet, and definitely shows why he’s here to stay. With production credits from the likes of DJ Premier, MF DOOM, Alchemist, and Statik Selektah, “Summer Knights” is definitely a step up in maturity level, as well as emotion level.
Don’t be fooled by Joey’s young age (he turned 18 earlier this year), he is definitely great at what he does. He’s quite the lyricist, as are his PRO ERA affiliates, and has a great ear for beats, which continue to reflect his love for 90s New York hip hop. Summer Knights is, at times, an extremely smooth tape, but for a good portion it’s fairly aggressive. One example is “95 til’ Infinity,” during which Joey is nearly screaming his lyrics. While most of his music brings Gang Starr and Nas to mind, tracks like this bring more aggressive hip hop like Wu-Tang Clan to mind.
Although this mixtape does have a 70 minute runtime, it definitely seems to go by quicker than that. The fact of the matter is, Joey Bada$$ is a lot of fun to listen to. He puts a new spin on East Coast hip hop—he calls his scene “Beast Coast”—by still retaining his youth and using the lingo that people his age use. He still likes to rap about sex and booty just as much as he likes to pay homage to a deceased friend, and he puts it all over some of the smoothest beats I’ve heard in years. Joey has once again proven himself as a rapper people are going to need to compete with, and I feel like he’ll only get better at what he does.
SCORE – 8.5
FAVORITE TRACKS – Alowha, My Yout (feat. Collie Buddz), Sit n’ Prey (feat. Dessy Hings & T’Nah Apex), 95 til’ Infinity, Reign, #longlivesteelo, Unorthodox