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Joey Bada$$ continues to prove that youth can bring maturity to Hip-Hop with his latest release.

When Joey Bada$$ came on the scene back in 2012, listeners were taken aback by how the then 17-year old captured reminded them of early-90s Hip-Hop. Looking back, it should not have been so much of a surprise. Joey was actually born in 1995, it is possible that he could’ve inherited that energy through some weird case of osmosis.

Since then he’s worked at breaking out of being labeled “too old” for his own generation and “too young” for people who have been listening to what they like longer than Joey has been alive. He’s managed to accomplish this by simply paying attention. Whether that means staying abreast of what’s going on in society or allowing that osmosis that we spoke on earlier to run its course. Or as he says on his single “Land Of The Free”:

Sometimes I speak and I feel like it ain’t my words

Like I’m just a vessel channeling inside this universe

I feel my ancestors unrested inside of me

It’s like they want me to shoot my chance in changing society

Joey recently caught some flak for expressing this while saying that he felt he was a better rapper than Tupac. Most people only caught that, but ignored that he meant he felt he was the kid ‘Pac was talking about when he said he wanted “spark the brain that would change the world.” Sure, the way Joey (who is also sporting a nose stud these days) said it reeked of 22-year old millennial arrogance, but we’d be doing ourselves a disservice to let his youth cloud our judgments about his music and intent.

That said, Joey’s intent can be felt throughout All Amerikkkan Bada$$. Like the Tupac’s, Ice Cube‘s and Goodie Mob’s before him, Joey decides to go beyond what people expect of rappers his age. Songs like “Y U DON’T LOVE ME? (MISS AMERIKKKA) outline America’s perceived (fake) love-(real) hate relationship with Black youth. While on the similarly titled “AMERIKKKAN IDOL” he flat out shoots a middle-finger at the White Supremacy that sets the stage for that kind of relationship to exist.

Also, like the early works of the aforementioned artists, Joey focuses on getting his message out instead of trying to make a “hit” song. Joey’s earnest lyrics and content will attract those who are looking for it, but it does lack the sweet candy that is sometimes needed to trick listeners into getting the medicine they may need. But, that also shows that Joey isn’t here to trick anybody, he’s here to spark just like ‘Pac did.