Album Review

Joey Bada$$: 2000 Album Review

todayAugust 15, 2022 28

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Chizobam Okeke

Music Journalist

It has been a long five-year wait for the kid from Flatbush to release another album, but it is finally here! On July 22, 2022, Joey Bada$$ dropped his third studio album, 2000. I’m sure that all over the world, hip-hop fans were curious about what the next step for Joey would be after he blessed us with his critically acclaimed, breakthrough mixtape, 1999, ten years ago. The New York native released his sophomore album, ALL AMERIKKAN BADA$$, in 2017. However, sonically, it was different than his debut. Still, it’s a known fact that Joey is a true student of hip-hop, looking up to true legends of the game like MF DOOM, Jay-Z, Nas, and the Wu-Tang Clan. His rapping ability on 1999 clearly showed that he had taken his time and put in the work, and as a result, he had everyone anticipating his next installment. Now, several years later, Joey is back and has more to get off his chest.

As the clear breakout member of the group which they call the “Progressive Era,” Joey has come back with what looks and sounds like a sequel to his first and most successful project. He has even brought back two of the producers that played a major role in the success of 1999. Statik Selektah and Chuck Strangers provide the lion’s share of the production on this album. The result is an album that sounds akin to its prequel. As listeners begin to digest the album, this can be seen as a good thing, or a slight letdown, depending on how you look at it. 

Take, for instance, songs like “Make Me Feel”, “Where I Belong”, and “Eulogy”. All three of these songs are solid, traditional New York boom-bap tracks, and I personally liked all of them. It’s refreshing to hear high-level rapping with high-level production, and I think that Selektah did a great job producing these three tracks. However, it can be argued that they bear strong similarities to songs that were featured on 1999. Because these new songs are being consumed by hungry ears, some may overlook the similarities and interpret them as nostalgia. However, some may perceive a lack of evolution that may have been imagined after such a lengthy absence. Nonetheless, Joey gives the listeners what he is a pro at great, New York-style beats and steezy raps.

Resemblances aside, the album brings with it a fresh group of features that keep the listeners on all ten toes. I was super freaked when I heard two of my favorite rappers on two of the tracks on the album. Joey features rappers like fellow New Yorkers, East Side Buffalo native Westside Gunn, San Francisco’s own Larry June, and Atlanta’s JID. The production for each song fits the featured rapper exceptionally well. Songs like “Brand New 911”, featuring Westside Gunn, and “One of Us”, featuring Larry June, at least for me, only makes the album more relatable. It’s nice to know that Joey has an ear to the streets after such an absence. He keeps his brand of a low-key, underground feel alive with these two features. 

Joey also collaborates with more widely known artists on the new album. In the song “Welcome Back”, Joey features the multitalented Chris Brown along with singer Capela Grey. The song is a nice change of pace from the conventional drum kicks and hi-hats, and in my opinion, Chris Brown and Capella Grey gave the song much of its appeal. In addition to both artists delivering a wonderful vocal performance on the song, Joey provides his audience with clever, decently indecent bars. Another huge name that appears at the beginning and end of the album is the cultural icon and hip-hop mogul, Diddy. Joey opens the album with an acapella track featuring Diddy, who provides a short speaking role and an array of subtle adlibs throughout. Diddy is said to also be playing the piano in the song, which provides excellent audio imagery as the track progresses. Both Diddy and Chris Brown’s appearances clearly show the respect that Joey has earned amongst other influential artists throughout his career.

Aside from the beat-knocking tracks and the rapping soulfulness, Joey adds a deeply personal and emotional layer to the album. In the song “Survivors Guilt”, Joey felt ready and willing to talk about the death of his former rapping partner and close friend, Capital STEEZ. STEEZ committed suicide on Christmas Eve 2012 at the age of nineteen. In this heartfelt song, Joey emotionally raps about his struggles with the passing of his close friend. The song brings up the subjects of pain, loss, and survivor’s guilt, as well as briefly touches on topics like dealing with mental health. The song makes the album a little more grounded, and the fact that he felt ready to rap about such a sensitive personal experience shows his level of growth over the years.

Since Joey Bada$$ first skated onto the scene with his amazing debut mixtape, 1999, I have been a fan. Certain songs on that album still, to this day, live rent-free in my mind. Joey makes a strong effort to build on the magic of his first album. 2000 has superb production and solid rapping, and despite a moderate absence, he doesn’t seem to have lost a step when it comes to his ability and creativeness. I like the fact that 2000 brings back some of the nostalgia of its predecessor. However, if I am being honest, 2000 falls short in comparison to 1999. Nevertheless, if I drop the comparison and look at 2000 as a stand-alone project; I can honestly say that I fully enjoyed listening to what was a great album overall. 

 

Image Credit: The album cover for 2000 by Joey Bada$$, Pro Era / Cinematic Music Group, under exclusive license to Columbia Records, a Division of Sonny Music Entertainment. 

Written by: Jordan Young

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