REVIEW: Joey Bada$$’s “All-American Badass (A.A.B.A.)” Will Convert Everybody Into Fans


(AllHipHop Review) After tempting fans with “DEVASTATED” and “LAND OF THE FREE,” (the track titles are intentionally all capitalized) Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ dropped his sophomore effort All-Amerikkkan Badass (A.A.B.A.) on the fifth anniversary of fellow Pro Era founder Capital STEEZ’s “Amerikkkan Korruption” mixtape.

In an interview with Wild 94.1, Joey compared the project to vegetables, saying “It’s almost my hesitance with it: the fact that it’s so good for you, because these kids these days want candy.” He also described “Devastated” as “organic candy” because of the intertwined message. Hopefully Joey can convince people to finish their metaphorical plate, because this album is worth multiple listens.

It’s clear that Joey Bada$$ is on a mission. From start to finish, All-Amerikkkan Badass is peppered with social commentary, forays into education, and overtly uplifting messages for everyone in the struggle. These are his audible vegetables. The album’s leadoff track “GOOD MORNING AMERIKKKA” finds Joey delving into what freedom means and his role as an influencer and persuading fans to “wake up.”

As usual, Joey brought some of his fellow Pro Era members along for the ride with a feature from Kirk Knight and Nyck Caution on “RING THE ALARM” (which also featured Meechy Darko) and production from Kirk Knight and Chuck Strangers. The rest of the beats are handled by 1-900, Dj Khalil, Powers Pleasant, Statik Selektah and Like. Schoolboy Q, Styles P and J. Cole also each drop a verse on different tracks.

Sonically, this album was a big step for Joey Bada$$. The boom bap sound his fans love him for is still present, but he and his producers took a creative approach to it that created a beautiful cohesion. He also seems to have grown melodically and hook-wise and nailed the process of clearly communicating each track’s theme.

Of the 12 songs on this album, “BABYLON” is by far my favorite. It has everything a good song should have: solid production, great bars, relative content, and emotion. A few bars into the first verse, Joey puts some grit in his voice as he expresses his disgust for the seemingly daily murders of young Black men by police in America. He goes on to say “F#ck the system and the government” and point out their many forms of corruption  before paying his respects to Eric Garner, the man choked to death on camera by NYPD.

If you’re a Joey Bada$$ fan, All-Amerikkkan Badass is for you. If you don’t mess with Joey’s older music, All-Amerikkkan Badass is still for you. The sophomore slump is real, and I’m glad to see Joey avoiding it with such a potent, well-crafted album.

 You can listen to the album via Spotify.