From “Devastated” to “Legendary.” In a long-awaited collaboration, Joey Bada$$ teams up with J. Cole to assert “Legendary” aspirations on the Statik Selektah-produced standout from Jozif Badmon’s newly-released album All-Amerikkkan Bada$$.
The jazzy instrumental enables the Pro Era star to reflect on mass incarceration and its effects. “It’s clear we livin’ in hell, the life of a black male,” he raps. “Right out the womb, you come out, and it’s a bunch of blackmail / Just waitin’ for you to fail, a special room in the jail / With your name, a number on it so you property now / I see it properly now, it’s what the poverty ’bout.”
Badmon’s hook is a celebration of overcoming those obstacles and shining bright regardless. “Legends, they never die,” he sings. “The ni**as only multiply / So put your fire up in the sky / ‘Cause they won’t ever kill the light.”
After Joey’s rumination on the prison system, Cole ponders life’s changes. “Maybe life happens like tides,” he rhymes. “One minute you’re low and feelin’ shallow, then all of a sudden you rise / Just, ride the wave, I say to myself / Find a way, the weight of my wealth / It’s honestly a lot to bear / I play the game of stackin’ knowin’ that I ought to share.”
From there, Jermaine’s verse turns to existential queries and religion. “How much does a man need? / How much can he hoard before his greed?” he asks. “How can a rich father teach humbleness to his seed? / Just questions, the stubborn all get taught tough lessons / I look at all I got like, ‘What’s missin’?’ / God is my only guess, ’cause yes, faith relieve the stress / I find peace again when I find Him and see I’m blessed.”
The song closes with Joey offering what appears to be a nod to Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.” “Tables keep turning, which way do I go?” he raps. “A fire’s burning inside of my soul / Tables keep turning, which way do I go? / A fire’s burning inside my control.”
In addition to Cole, All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ features ScHoolboy Q (“Rockabye”) and Styles P (“Super Predator”).