Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$
B4.DA.$$ is sixty-four minutes long. Now, there are albums that can pull off the hour-plus run time; double and triple albums are a consistent theme in my overall list of favourite albums. Very few of them, however, have the, uh, single-minded sense of purpose that Joey Bada$$ brings to his debut. The Brooklyn rapper eschews the modern rap trend completely, giving the finger to short sing-song verses and meme rap hooks in favour of flow and wordplay that seems to come straight out of the Golden Age of the 1990s. More than seems to, actually; at times he lifts lines straight out of classic joints and you’ll find yourself saying “wait, cash rules every- dude.” This is East Coast hip hop like you remember it: grimey, dense, and cerebral, hip hop you listen to in dank back rooms with dim lighting. This is something that always piques my interest, but the big problem here is that over the course of an hour there’s not much to differentiate one track from the next. If the album were half the size it is it would be stellar, and I wouldn’t feel like I was getting mired in a swamp. “Every track is essential” he says on “O.C.B.”. Well, no, it’s not. I want this guy to succeed because I do like his flow and I do like his aesthetic, but damn does he need to learn the gentle art of editing himself.