On his sophomore effort, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, Brooklyn MC Joey Bada$$ continues to honor the golden era legacy of his forebears, while making a major leap in lyrical prowess that takes aim at the ills and injustices in America. Similar to equally politicized releases from the likes of contemporaries Vince Staples, Nick Grant, and Kendrick Lamar, Bada$$ tackles police violence, institutionalized racism, and Donald Trump, while maintaining hope and tempered optimism for the future ("Land of the Free" and "Devastated" are standouts). There's a lot to unpack here, which makes All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ an involved and rewarding listen. Powerful, relevant, urgent, and mature, his anger and frustration bleed into the delivery of every dense bar. On "For My People," he asks "Who will take a stand and be our hero?," while on "Temptation" he begs "Tell me Lord can you help me/I said Lord can you help me?" With production by DJ Khalil, 1-900, Kirk Knight, Statik Selektah, and more, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ is drenched in the sounds of nostalgia and lush sampling, especially on the jazzy Kendrick-esque "Y U Don't Love Me? (Miss Amerikka)" and the old-school New York vibe of "Rockabye Baby." Like an old Wu-Tang or Nas track, "Rockabye" creeps with a menace courtesy of West Coast rapper ScHoolboy Q. Other guests include reggae singer Chronixx on "Babylon" (which includes the great line "If them heaven gates close/I'mma break off them hinges for my niggas"); Styles P on "Super Predator"; J. Cole on the smooth "Legendary" (where Bada$$ raps "It's clear we living in hell/The life of a black male"); and the Pro Era showcase "Ring the Alarm," which features Kirk Knight, Nyck Caution, and Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies on an urgent, throbbing highlight. In case his position was unclear from the album title and artwork depicting Klansmen burning a cross in the desert and Bada$$ hanging dead from a noose, he maintains a certain distrust for the powers that be and the so-called "land of the free." On the final track, "Amerikkkan Idol," he raps, "I'm out for dead presidents to represent me/Cause I never knew a live one that represent me," pledging allegiance to the power more likely to advance him in America. An extended spoken word outro packs in a wealth of quotable wisdom from Bada$$ that wraps up the entire album with a red-white-and-blue bandana. It's a call to arms for listeners to wake up, educate themselves, and fight for justice. All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ is the sound of a young rapper finding a voice and higher purpose, an exciting and powerfully insightful statement. ~ Neil Z. Yeung

  • Genre: Hip Hop
  • Format: Vinyl