His name may be Joe, but his flow was anything but sloppy. With this trend of punny captions, I just had to do that one. However, this is not about social media finally discovering the art of poetry. It’s about the “Bada$$” whose first name is Joey and his most recent compilation of poems…I mean songs. Let’s start with the title.
Not only is Joey redesigning the aesthetic of the beloved AmeriKKKan flag, but he is also redefining the phrases too. This is bold, to say the least. America is sensitive about its flag. Just ask Colin Kaepernick about that one. Yet, the boldness only begins with the album title.
As we’ve seen with the Olympics, the NFL, the NBA and other examples, sports are to America as peanut butter is to jelly. Sports are part of what makes the fabric of this country. It’s no wonder the athletes leave the Olympics with heavy necks adorned in gold, but why is any of this relevant?
The phrase “All-American” can describe a person who plays multiple sports and Joey uses this phrase in his album title, a hint that he’s about to dismantle the very fabric that is America. And he does just that. In 12 tracks, he keeps the people both woke and silent. That is, he wakes us up, but his methodology inspires a moment of silence. The first song I heard, which easily became my favorite, was “Land of the free.” Joey employed the following bars:
In the land of the free, it’s for the freeloaders.
Leave us dead in the street to be their organ donors.
They disorganized my people, made us all loners.
Still got the last names of our slave owners.
Powerful words. The first line speaks for itself. The second one, though, relates to concepts put forth in Get Out, the idea that white supremacists only want to use Black people for our assets. Then, the final line in this example is the one with the heaviest implications.
The Nation of Islam, which Bada$$ also references when he says “Wa’ alaikum salam,” emphasizes the importance of throwing away the names of slave masters and renaming oneself. It’s part of the healing process to reclaim a sense of pride. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to “AmeriKKKan Idol” and it’s distracting because, on the one hand, I’m trying to review the album. On the other, I am digesting Joey Bada$$’s palpable consciousness. From production to lyricism, the album delivers in every way.
Let’s discuss his use of “two As, three Ks in America.” This is rather bold and I love it. Through this album, Bada$$ proves that he is as his stage name suggests – a bad ass; the scare tactics America is using will not scare him. In a way, Bada$$ takes on the perspective of the people’s warrior. He says in “AmeriKKKan Idol” that he’s “got to” be the voice.
The album gives me Smalls, Shakur, Jones, Carter vibes yet possesses a contemporary Cole, Lamar, Logic, Big Sean flare that sends it over the top. “All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$” is a masterfully crafted wake up call to African Americans. I love J. Cole and will argue up and down for my bae, but this album does everything that For Your Eyez Only didn’t do; that Damn didn’t do; that Pac and Biggie didn’t live to do.
Bada$$ brings everything full circle in his last song, “AmeriKKKan Idol.” Expounding on the idea that Bada$$ was the Tupac kind of fearless in this album, he notes that they, presumably white supremacists, want Black people to rebel so that it can be “easier” to kill us. More often that not, victims of police brutality are painted as “thugs,” yet even the “good” Black people are getting killed, like Jordan Edwards, because the end-game, really, is extermination.
Sadly, “Alton Sterlings are happening everyday,” yet “most of these stories don’t reach mass consciousness.” Bada$$ wonders, “Who do we call when the police break the law?” These lines are truth-telling and angering and compelling, but the line that really stuck with me from the track was the following:
We are so quick to pick up a gun to kill one another but not quick enough to pick it up and protect each other.
On a scale of 1-10, I’ll give this album a 9.9999 and let you round up after you listen. From an entertainment standpoint, it pains me to recognize anyone who’s not Cole. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, I won’t deny greatness. It’s like Curry and LeBron. I’m a Curry fan, but I still recognize LeBron’s skill. The same goes for Joey Bada$$ and J. Cole. “All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$” is a must-cop.
Recommendations: THE WHOLE ALBUM, especially Land of the Free, Babylon, and AmeriKKKan Idol.