Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott, whose artist moniker is Joey Bada$$, has been an anomaly ever since he came onto the scene with full force as a 16-year-old Brooklynite with the flow and political insight of someone twice his age that was at their peak in the 90s.
If you are black in America, then All Amerikkkan Bada$$ will be an album that will bury itself into your heart and mind due to its uncanny relatable nature and familiar emotion. As Bada$$ says in the second track, “FOR MY PEOPLE” on his album All Amerikkkan Bada$$ “It’s for my people/Tryin’ to stay alive and just stay peaceful/So hard to survive a world so lethal/Who will take a stand and be our hero, of my people”. Bada$$ is a hero to the young black man in the Bronx who feels the struggles of being a black American everyday and doesn’t have the eloquent talent to put it in words like Bada$$ does.
Throughout the album, you will feel moments of pride, sorrow, and contemplativeness. On “TEMPTATION” the track samples Zianna Oliphant’s “Speech to Charlotte City Council”, which features a little black girl tearfully spilling her heart out. “We are black people and we shouldn’t have to feel like this. We shouldn’t have to protest because you guys are treating us wrong.” The contrast between a little girl and a man in his 20s feeling the same frustration as being a black American is a way of life for us who experience it every day, but shocking to those who don’t have to.
All Amerikkkan Bada$$ is sonically cohesive throughout thanks to the stunning work of producers DJ Khalil, 1-900, Kirk Knight, Powers Pleasant, Chuck Strangers, and Statik Selektah. Soaring saxophones and bluesy beats make up a majority of the album, but there are some low-key bangers like “DEVASTATED”, although Bada$$’ flowing vocals create an atmospheric tone throughout.
“Y DON’T LOVE ME (MISS AMERIKKA)” is an anti-love song to America from all black Americans as told from Joey Bada$$. The sultry harmonic throwback tones sails over Bada$$’s effortless flow with ease. The chorus tackles Eurocentric ideals of beauty and socialized racism with lyrics like ”Tell me why you don’t love me/Why you always misjudge me?/Why you always put so many things above me?/ Why you lead me to believe I’m ugly?/Why you never trust me?/Why you treat me like I don’t matter?/ Why you always kicking my ladder?/ Why you never hearing my side to the story?/ Never look me in my eyes say sorry?”.
From there we go right into the first feature of the album with ScHoolboy Q voicing his frustrations on top of a dark Dr. Dre-esque beat. “From getting’ lynched in the field into ownin’ buildings/Getting millions, influenced white children/ And oddly we still ain’t even/ Still a small percentage of blacks that’s eating”, ScHoolboy Q says in his signature gruff register.
“SUPERPREDATOR” sounds like something taken from the film The Black Power Mixtape with intertwining and twisting saxophones snaking in and out between Joey Bada$$’ and Styles P’s verses. Bada$$ introduces us to his Caribbean culture with his Patois spoken chorus. Named after a common phrase politicians (namely Hillary Clinton and John Dilulio) have used to describe black youths, “SUPERPREDATOR” explores the plight of the black man and the way politicians use them to ultimately reap all the economic and social benefits.
Cole made his appearance on “LEGENDARY”, which has a vibe that brings me back to the Harlem Renaissance era. These two are known pro lyricists in the game, so it comes as no surprise that the two have some noteworthy bars on the track.Rather than boast, Cole spews his insecurities on his verse with lyrics like, “I play the game of stackin’ knowin’ that I ought to share/ How much does a man need? How much can he hoard before his greed? How can a rich father teach humbleness to his seed?”
All Amerikkkan Bada$$ ends on a thought provoking note with the last track “AMERIKKAN IDOL”. Insight such as “’Cause who do we call when the police break the law?/ We are so quick to pull a gun and pick it up to protect each other/ The code words to killin’ a black man by police is , ‘He’s got a gun’/Damned if he do, damned if he don’t, damned if he runs”, is nothing new to us brown hued American citizens, and Bada$$ just wants someone to listen.
This is Bada$$’ most aggressive track on the album and acts as a warning to the world about the consequences of Trump’s Amerikkka and how now is the ultimate time to become woke and see the world for what it is. “Time to wake the fuck up and do your own research/ And not form opinions on based on what we’ve just heard/ Ameri-K-K-K-a is force-feedin’ you lies down your throats with a silver spoon/ And eventually we’ll all be doomed/ real, real soon.”
Although Bada$$’ story is all too familiar to me, it was a deeply emotional journey to hear someone put together a gorgeous piece of art that illustrates the struggle that my people and I go through every day. This album is not only a product of Bada$$ personal experience, but it’s a product of an Amerikkka where someone like Donald Trump can take office. An Amerikkka where black bodies hit the pavement on a regular basis. An Amerikkka that hasn’t learned from its mistakes, but Bada$$ is hopeful it will. Although it may not seem like this is an album for black Americans, this album is for everyone. Everyone needs to hear this story, whether they learn something from it or not.