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6.11.2016

Exclusive: Joey Bada$$ Wants to Be the Voice of His Generation with Sophomore Album

Joey Bada$$ is ready for the next phase of his career.

He’s already a critically-acclaimed rapper who’s been co-signed by legends like RZA and DJ Premier. His 2015 album B4.DA.$$ was hailed as a “passionate, clever debut” by Rolling Stone and as “everything a debut rap album should be,” by the A.V. Club. But, fresh off his performance at Los Angeles radio station Power 106’s annual Powerhouse concert, Joey tells Rap-Up that he’s still hungry for more.

“People will definitely feel an elevated, evolved Joey,” he says of his next album. “It’s gonna be way more high energy, high performance. I’m really just gonna speak for my generation.”

Lyrically, Joey says he’s inspired by current and historical events, and that his writing will reflect that. “I think there’s been something going on in America,” he adds. “Especially against the young black youth, you know, the oppressed people of this country. So I think the young generation needs a voice. I do believe I am that voice.”

Of course, that voice needs some dope beats to rhyme on and Joey says that his sound is “expanding” too. Since his breakout mixtape, 2012’s 1999, Bada$$ thrived on (and was sometimes criticized for) a ’90s-inspired style, but he says he’s adding more styles to his repertoire on his next LP.

Last month, JoZif BADMON showed fans a glimpse of that expansion on “Devastated,” a track that deviates from the Golden Era sound. “It’s funny because the new song is really different from my previous work,” he admits. “Some fans look at it like ‘Joey’s going mainstream now! What’s he doing?’ Nah. I’m an artist. Each song is a painting for me. People have been used to seeing me paint in the shade of gold or purple. Now, I want to try red and blue. I want to expand my creative and artistic vision, but it’s still the same message. ‘Devastated’ is an inspiring, uplifting song.”

Through all the talk of change, though, Joey wants to make something clear: “People don’t ever gotta worry about lyrics with me.” He points to his recent “Sway in the Morning” freestyle, where he delivered bar-after-bar, as an example of this. “There’s a lot more where that came from,” he says.

Now 21, the rapper who came in the game as a high school student, is simply ready for the next phase of his career. “I’ve hit a ceiling,” he says. “And now the next ceiling is getting everybody down, getting everybody to understand what the message is, what the end goal is, what the dream is. A track like ‘Devastated’ really accomplishes that.”

So what is that end goal for Joey? What is he trying to accomplish as he heads into this sophomore LP? “We trying to inspire the world,” he explains. “We trying to uplift the youth. That’s the main dream. That’s the main goal.”

–Andres Tardio