The Brooklyn born bad ass is back with some awesome new music. Fans of Joey will probably still have his new album playing, but if that wasn’t enough for you the Pro Era chief has reincarnated his jazzy NYC sound in the form of two new singles.
Joey Bada$$ and his rap entourage Pro Era have been on the rap scene for about 8 years now. Big fans will remember Joey’s debut mixtape, 1999, a project he spearheaded at just 16 years old, with production and backup from Pro Era individuals. Since then it hasn’t exactly been the cliche rappers lifestyle for the group, with the death of their close friend Capital Steez – a prominent feature on 1999 and someone the entire group looked up to musically and generally – the group have experienced the highs and lows of hip hop.
Fast forward 3 albums later and Joey now brings you two short singles titled Love is Only a Feeling and 500 Benz. Those of you who are familiar with Joey’s sound will know that it has cleverly evolved through his releases while simultaneously sticking to his much loved influences of jazz and soul. Those of you less familiar – think Nas, think A Tribe Called Quest, think classic jazzy samples and easy drum beats. No nonsense, just awesome jazzy melodies and even better lyrics. After listening to any of Joey’s lyrics, it won’t take long to realise that this guy’s vocabulary and playing with words is, to me, up there with the likes of Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. Don’t take my word for it? Since the rise of Joey Bada$$, the infamous Jay Z (also Brooklyn born) has ensured that he reaches his full musical potential. Not a bad teacher to have looking over you I suppose. But anyway, back to the singles…
Love is Only a Feeling is brilliant in its simplicity. The beat on its own would not look out of place in any jazz club anywhere in the world and personally I could listen to that alone for ages (might be a worrying sign of my mental state, who knows). But what’s great about this song is that the lyrics don’t contradict the beat in any way. More of a love song than a rap song, there’s no alpha male gangster talk about who has the biggest jewelry collection, just simple verses over a easy listening beat. That’s not to say Joey does’t puff his chest out in some of his music, it should just be celebrated that he is capable of doing both where many others cannot.
As for 500 Benz, there is a bit more flamboyancy with regards to lyrics. The smooth jazzy vibes are still very much in abundance in this song, even with a sweet little saxophone solo towards the end. But as he talks about taking “the business class seats back to NYC” and wearing his “rare Gucci jacket with the Cartier glasses just to match it”, its obvious that Joey can mix up the rhetoric if and when he pleases.
For anyone new to Joey Bada$$, I strongly recommend you start from 1999 (keeping in mind this guy is 16 when he made this!) and work your way up to these releases. It’s great to see how far he and his sound has come since then and even though his sound varies slightly through the years, his influences are still there throughout. He covers all topics from personal to political, so there will definitely be something in the catologue that will take your fancy.