Bada$$ started gaining well deserved recognition following his 2012 mixtape 1999 and 2013’s Summer Knights. Both of these albums were appreciated for their throwback style and sound, and Bada$$ was praised for is clever lyricism and unique delivery. B4.DA.$$ follows this trend that Joey has built and does so in a manner that is both nostalgic and refreshing.
In many cases, as the title suggests, B4.DA.$$ is an inspection of Hip-Hop as it was before it was the supreme commodity that it is today. As Rae Sremmurd and OT Genesis dominate the airwaves with desperate material that sacrifices substance for attempts at catchy music, Bada$$ sees this through his own lens of simultaneous outro- and introspection. On the track “Paper Trail$”, Bada$$ kicks off the hook “Before the money, there was love / But before the money, it was tough / Then came the money through a plug /It’s a shame this ain’t enough” showing how money has not just changed his own experience, but the genre as well.
The middle of the album houses many of the singles that dropped prior to the albums release, such as “No. 99”, a banging anthem for Bada$$ and his crew Pro Era, and “Christ Conscious”, a one-verse track that solidifies Bada$$ as one of the genre’s best lyricists today. Following these two is easily one of the album’s best tracks “Like Me”, which features a textured instrumental and crooning back-up vocals of BJ the Chicago Kid that combine to make a beautiful template for Joey to explore social, political, and personal issues. With “On & On”, another highlight of the album, Bada$$ addresses how he wants to be remembered once he has passed on. Perhaps inspired by the untimely passing of his close friend and fellow rapper Capital STEEZ, “On & On” is not only one of B4.DA.$$‘s best, but also one of Bada$$’s most compelling releases to date.
You know … I come from Brooklyn New York, you know I was born and raised. But my parents from the Caribbean Islands… you know, my mums by way of St Lucia and my pops from Jamaica, so you know I play pretty close to my roots.
-Joey Bada$$ from “Big Dusty”
B4.DA.$$ is more than just one big #TBT. It’s clear that Joey Bada$$ is a child of his influences – raised by the sounds of Brooklyn Hip-Hop and deeply rooted in artistry that existed “before the money”. In a age where listeners are so desperate for the hot new act and constantly on the search for that artist that is “changing the game”, Joey serves a refreshing revisit to that golden era of Hip-Hop, and B4.DA.$$ is golden album to take us there.