Review Summary: Word is bond rings most true with Joey Bada$$'s 'Summer Knights'
Joey Bada$$'s '1999' garnered a ludicrous amount of attention for an independent release from a relatively unknown kid from New York last year. Getting praise from Pitchfork as well as from Complex Magazine who ranked it their 38th best release of 2012, it's safe to say Joey struck gold with his first release. While it was highly praised, it also had its critics who claim that he was stuck in the wrong era of rap, his flow never really changes and many songs sound similar to each other. While these are true in their eyes, you can't say that it isn't a breath of fresh air for mainstream rap where trap-rap and electro-experimental rap are seeing their rise. What Summer Knights brings to the table is exactly what 1999 brought last year, and that isn't a bad thing at all.
It is clear that Joey adores his hometown. From his style to the album cover of Brooklyn's Prospect Park, it seems he yearns for you to love New York as much as he does; evident with every boom-bap beat featured on Summer Knights. Unlike 1999 where all the songs shared the same type of tempo and aurora with the beats, SK's features a sort of cloud-rap feel in songs such as 'Right On Time' and 'Trap Door.' And while the departure in these songs from their boom-bap brothers provide a slight distraction, the difference never truly feels like anything different
Joey's flow has improved since we last saw him on 1999. Where he never really differed his flow on bars before, here varies it from being aggressive on '95 Till Infinity' and 'Amethyst Rockstar' or showing off a slick flow basically tripping over syllables on 'Hillary $wank' to just his signature flow on tracks like 'Death of Yolo' and 'Unorthodox.' Its superior to the samey flow he had on 1999 and shows he is growing from a technical standpoint. He has also grown as a lyricist, as the amount of dick jokes and themes of sexing woman have decreased significantly and the lines actually have thought and wit to them such as the lyrical play on words ''I don't drink too much, but I know the bud wiser
" found on 'My Youth.' Songs like 'Unorthodox', '#LongLiveSteelo' and 'Amethyst Rockstar' showcase a broader lyrical spectrum, especially for someone who is barely eighteen. There is still a fare share of the lyrical naive-ness that was seen on 1999, but the blame can squarely be shouldered by the fact the mixtape is slightly bloated.
You either love him or hate him, so was the case with listeners when 1999 was released. And for better or for worse depending on your opinion of Joey, the same will be said with Summer Knights. It's a mixtape that showcases Joey stepping up in some area's while remaining horizontal in others. Either way, it's still displays enough growth to warrant him a spot under most anticipated album's of 2014.