My answer to Lloyd‘s direct question – yes, for those who know him, there is such a thing – was non-committal. I had already hailed Joey BADA$$’s 1999 mixtape as one of my favorite albums of 2012 and praised his track “Survival Tactics”. Yet, I paused.
I need to see Killer Mike perform first, I responded. And then, I wrote a post about how many good hip-hop albums dropped already this year. Declaring the 17-year-old Brooklynite’s mixtape the top hip-hop release of this year seemed a bit presumptive, I convinced myself. Seeing Killer Mike live complicated matters because I left the show thinking El-P’s new album, Cancer for Cure, might be more enjoyable to my ears.
The more I listen to 1999 – with Joey BADA$$’s precocious flow and streetwise rhymes backed by smooth jazz instrumentals – the more I lean toward Lloyd’s view. It is hip-hop for the sake of hip-hop, and it is a beautiful thing. It recalls a time when the genre was an artform less concerned about invented swag and rented bling and more interested in authenticity. 1999 introduces the voice of a major talent in hip-hop. One who might just have released 2012′s best rap album. (The reporter in me says wait for all the facts – i.e., new Kanye, Big Boi, and Kendrick Lamar albums – to make such an assertion.)
Here’s the new Joey BADA$$ video for “Waves”. It’s a refreshing portrait of a teen being a teen – albeit, Joey BADA$$ is far from an ordinary teen.