Twenty years ago Nas was in the studio making Illmatic, the record that would launch his career and set him on a course to become a top ten greatest-of-all-time rapper. And as we speak, Brooklyn’s Joe Bada$$ is following much the same playbook for his big label debut, working in the studio with the same producers that made Illmatic one of the most important hip hop albums of all time, Pete Rock and DJ Premiere. The kid is 18 years old and on his way to becoming the new king already.
Joey’s first mixtape, called 1999, was a boot through the door at a time when the rap industry needed it most – the brash, young MC found a way to bring back the classic East Coast sound but with a twenty-teens sensibility that makes all the old cadences and soul samples that defined the ’88 – ’94 Golden Age seem fresh again.
And lyrically, there’s not been a new MC we’ve been this excited about in a decade. Here’s Joey dropping a freestyle on Funk Flex the other night at Hot 97 studios in New York:
Here’s the video for ‘Survival Tactics’ that dropped a year ago when Joey Bada$$ was just 17. it quickly became a sensation, garnering 2.2 million views and counting:
And below is the new video for an underground mixtape joint that dropped three weeks ago, it’s Joey, Smoke DZA and downsouth phenom Big K.R.I.T., another breakout star whose mixtape rocketed him to internet and now mainstream stardom…
You can download 1999 here for free (and I suggest you do so now if you haven’t already): Datpiff
Also, the above-referenced Illmatic album has just been reissued for its 20th anniversary and Pitchfork has blessed it with the almost-never seen 10 out 10. Read why here: (Pitchfork)