In the collective fallout of a day that was hyped as Kendrick’s, Joey Bada$$ filled the void, delivering “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$.” The album plays between nostalgia and innovation, riding the cyclical wave of trends heralding back to ‘80s pop and ‘90s jazz-rap.

The release of last summer’s feel good jam, “Devastated,” caused Bada$$ loyalists to question the rapper’s future direction. We were left with the impression that his then-upcoming album would conform to the tastes of a wider consumer and radio base. Similarly, the singles released this winter were not his strongest works and left me wishing for the ‘Third Eye Bada$$’ of “1999” and “Summer Knights” to return. Joey walks a fine line in this endeavor, appealing to both a mainstream audience and loyal fans.

“ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” is a concise and coherent album that ultimately relies on Joey’s clever lyricism and the current political turmoil. That is, there’s nothing necessarily new both in content and musicality, yet he produces each to a high standard. After several listens, the first half begins to blend together as an emulation of other artist’s styles, like Wale, Schoolboy Q, Drake and Kendrick Lamar.

Despite its shortcomings, the album’s structure saves it from becoming irrelevant. Each song serves the purpose of the album without the use of unnecessary or superfluous fillers, and thankfully, without skits. The strength of this work is Joey’s lyrical style of clever alliterations and double entendres, producing a series of unique cadences and mental images.

Why you can’t recognize my stride?

Always gotta minimize my pride

Always gon’ criticize my moods

I can’t make one mistake, it’s no room

Feelin’ like I gotta leave real soon

I’ma say, “Namaste,” and just bloom


While this record will be remembered as a good album, it doesn’t push the limits of musicality or content, but instead, gives depth to a mainstream resurgence of conscious rap. It also shows his growing maturity as an artist. This album shows him pushing in these directions; however, he still has work to do to reach an elite level. Overall, “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” is an indication of good things to come.