Joey Bada$$ ‘2000’ review | Joey enters the 21st Century

★★★☆☆
Joey Bada$$ is back. 2000 lacks the bite of his debut mixtape, 1999, or the scope of his last studio album, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$. Worth the wait? No. Still, it proves why he’s one of this generation’s leading lyricists.

Joey Badass 2000

★★★☆☆


Ten years on from 1999, Joey Bada$$ has finally entered the 21st century. He’s always been an old soul in a surprisingly young body – the Brooklynite was just 17 when that hypnotic debut dropped – and has been one of the most successful modern artists at recreating a vintage sound. 

That’s not to say that he has not also been a pioneer. He has been at the forefront of the Pro Era collective’s success, straddled both sides of the Atlantic in a way that few artists are able to, and recently moved in front of the camera, starring in the acclaimed Mr. Robot and Wu-Tang: An American Saga. 

Joey Bada$$

And yet, with Joey Bada$$ the musician, one cannot help but feel that for a man of such talent and intelligence, a defining record is still missing. 1999 was brilliant, but it was never groundbreaking. Despite the wait for 2000, it never really felt as if this would be, either. 

On the album’s opening track, ‘The Baddest’ featuring Diddy, Joey rhymes, “Who the best MCs? Kenny, Joey and Cole – the holy trinity.” The upper echelon of rap is of course where he wants to position himself, and he’s good enough that it’s not an entirely baseless claim, but unlike the aforementioned Kendrick and J.Cole, Joey plays it rather safe on 2000. Few 17 year olds have ever touched the heights of 1999, but the evolution on this has been lacking.

When the tracklist for 2000 first came out, the features were surprising. Given that it’s the sequel to 1999, you expected at least some of the Pro Era roster to appear, but instead listed was Griselda’s Westside Gunn and Dreamville’s JID, as well as Larry June, Capella Grey and Diddy. And then there was Chris Brown. A strange choice, especially given lines including “Blow your back out like I should” and “Grippin’ on your body and bending it out of shape, Love the way we toxic”. 

Otherwise, though, the features work. The Westside Gunn track, ‘Brand New 911’, is typical of its guest star, packed with a comical amount of ad-libs and plenty of bravado. Equally, with JID, the two show off their dexterity on ‘Wanna Be Loved’.

The production is handled by lots of longtime Joey Bada$$ collaborators. Statik Selektah gets half a dozen production credits on the album, and they are some of the best tracks there. It’s hardly surprising, given how much experience the two have working together and Joey’s familiarity in navigating these kinds of beats. Other famous Brooklyn natives appear on production, in the shape of Flatbush Zombies’ Erick the Architect and Kirk Knight – Erick’s production on the stripped back album opener working particularly well. 

Joey’s familiarity with the production, and my criticism of playing it safe, does not mean the album lacks variety. The beats are unconventional and mixed, and the personal growth in the lyrics is clear. He’s no longer a chippy teenager, needing to prove himself to the world, but a renowned star.

I don’t see how 2000 can really change that reputation – which is both good and bad. Is anyone going to be disappointed by it? I doubt it. Is anyone going to fall in love with Joey Bada$$, in the same way they did 1999, because of it? I doubt it.  


Leave a Reply

More like this