Joey Bada$$ brashly confronts the ugliness of America on his socially responsive sophomore album All-Amerikkkan Bada$$. Kendrick Lamar’s delay in releasing new material was a blessing in disguise for the promising rapper as his new album received the attention it deserves on April 7th.
It’s a change of pace from Joey Bada$$’s explosive debut. Conscientious, passionate and acutely aware of the current political climate, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ highlights Bada$$’s artistic and personal growth as he attempts to articulate his complex relationship with his country. This is fully realised on ‘Y U Don’t Love Me’, which imagines America as an abusive lover, and it is impossible to ignore the dark socio-political commentary that permeates the album.
All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ is unrelenting. It demands to be played from start to finish. The lighter, melodic beat of ‘DEVASTATED’ is matched in the album’s second half by darker expressions of the American condition on tracks such as ‘ROCKABYE BABY.’ The soul-infused highlight ‘TEMPTATION’ is framed by the emotive pleas of Zianna Oliphant who spoke out against police brutality in 2016. The album moves from its melodic beginning to the aggressively climactic final track ‘AMERIKKKAN IDOL.’ Production and synths are stripped down to reveal a raw, carefully crafted lyrical story of civil war and white supremacy – themes which are suggested by the triple ‘K’ of the album’s title.
Bada$$ is advocating action over political apathy. In an interview, he described the potent tracks as “vegetables” because they are “healthy” and do a whole lot of good for their listeners. Lyrics such as “justice won’t be served by a hashtag” may border on cliché but the powerful sentiments speak to everybody’s anxiety about present-day America.
Joey Bada$$ has clearly bucked the trend of the second album slump with an album that is both thoughtful and bold.