Review Summary: "It's been a minute since they seen a style with no gimmicks" - Joey Bada$$2 of 3 thought this review was well written
Joey Bada$$ (formerly JayOhVee) is a talented hip-hop artist looking to transition the rap game in a more thought-provoking and lyrically strengthened direction. He's a '95 born, NYC residing teenager who has gained considerable hype over the past couple of months from 3 videos, namely Hardknock, America (ft. Mac Miller) and Survival Tactics, oh and he has also been noted as having quite the talent for the written word.
Hip-hop, admittedly, has gone downhill since the much beloved and highly revered 90s era. It's unfortunately gone downhill in the most important aspect: the mainstream sphere, where hip-hop is used to reach the ears of potential listeners. It's just not as powerful as it used to be, back in the 90s (forgive me hip-hop purists) and early 2000s, where only talented cats were able to rise up (90s) due to the missing internet advantage and their only assistance being a demo of hope and word of mouth. The 90s: where being mainstream was considered in the..uh..mainstream's eye a terrible thing and you would be outcasted for it in many hip-hop factions, much like Nas nearly was, but that's a whole other story.
Now fast forward to 2012 where a young Joey Bada$$ has been receiving considerable buzz and is seducing all hip-hop heads to his honest, expressive and emotive lyrics/sound. There aren't many rappers like him, you have the select few (incredibly popular) artists who are pushing a lyrically dumbed down song structure to the audience, as a means to replace thought-provoking lyrics with thought-distracting lyrics, i.e. 2Chainz, Waka Flocka Flame, etc and then you get the artists who, yes do use braggadocio themes, but they also make music of substance coupled with layers of infectious talent, e.g. Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, Wiki, Drig, Hopsin, and Joey Bada$$ (that's not all of them, obviously, just a select few that came to mind).
Joey's mixtape utilizes beats already released and used by famous artists but he also sports many original beats from his own clique ProEra, which he fuses with snugly: (Righteous Minds, Daily Routine, Fromdatomb$, Suspect among others). He fits with them like Titanic to the ocean, or Neil Patrick Harris's mouth to a dick.
His flow is raw, it feels loose, it sinks nostalgic awe into my soul, his flow feels personal, it's raw, it's his own and every lyric feels specifically chosen to serve a specific purpose. There aren't many pointless lyrics scattered on this tape and he attacks lyrics with his own poetic, Illmatic sort of approach, flipping up syntax and mixing adjectives with vividly visual stimulations, e.g:
My man Dirty had the buddha just to put me in my right mind
I rhyme stoned, drop jewels and bright lines
Sight dimes wit' slight closed eyes, I'm slight so pa
Ma you ain't that gold at giving throat so bye
He drops jewel after jewel on every track with confidence on the drip and a slightly monotonous delivery, which can become mundane after sometime, considering a majority of the songs follow the same sort of structure. The tape does have some flaws, however, like the immature and breaching on sexist/misogynistic/swaggy "Pennyroyal" and "Funky Ho's". While he rhymes smoothly over the beats he just comes off as a child and slightly awkward with the repetitive, generic subject matter that nearly every rapper has taken advantage of due to the easy nature of it, but those are the only flaws apart from some awkward lines and forced wordplay. Everything comes across as very professional and planned out thoroughly, with none of the tracks feeling that out of place amongst each other.
He's gained a fantastic starting point for a promising career. With room to grow and talent to craft even finer who knows what the future holds for Joey?
PROS: unique lyrical approach
genuine interest in making rap music
good ear for beats
CONS: can come off immature
voice can become monotous
Hardknock ft. CJ Fly
Survival Tactics ft. Capital Steez