Reviewing Joey Bada$$ 2000 Album.
Within a 10-year span Joey has gone through rock bottom tragedies and soaring triumphs, helping him finish the story 1999 started.
In the late 2000’s, New York’s rap scene had lost its identity, The G-Unit craze had died out, Dipset’s presence was more or less non-existent and Rocafella was a husk of the powerhouse it once was. It wasn’t until 2011, when ASAP Mob would takeover radio airways and breathe new life into the city.
However, despite ASAP’s revolution, there was still a large portion of the hip hop community who idolised and yearned for the iconic 90’s sound of New York’s past, including a 17-year-old Joey Bada$$ and his fellow collectives, Pro-Era. In 2012, Joey released his debut mixtape “1999”, a project that went on to receive unanimous critical acclaim and is now recognised as one of the best rap projects of the 2010’s.
It’s raw 90’s-esque production and passionate storytelling gripped all factions of the hip hop community and reminded everyone of hip hop’s lyrically conscious roots. “1999”, alongside the likes of “Good Kid Maad City”, greatly influenced the 2010’s “Conscious Rap” scene for the rest of the decade, so when Joey said he was coming out with a sequel, naturally, I had doubts.
However, despite the inevitable hype the announcement of “2000” created, Joey has still managed to meet expectations and, in my opinion, surpass them in some areas. “2000” isn’t one of those sequels that spends it’s time trying to recreate its predecessor’s magic, it’s a sequel that provides a new perspective in a world we’re already familiar with. On “1999”, Joey sounded noticeably young but emotionally wise way beyond his years, aspiring to be one of the hip hop he icons he idolised as a youth.
On “2000” however, it’s obvious that some time has passed, his voice is more mature, his thoughts are more articulate and reminiscent, and from a musical point of view the production feels like it has the weight of a major label behind it, something Joey didn’t have all those years ago.
It’s satisfying to hear Joey’s more braggadocios lyrics come out on this album, talking about buying Porsches and icing out chains, not because I wanted a change from his deeper subject matter but because it feels well-deserved, and personally I felt happy to hear that Joey made it and achieved all the things he aspired to be on “1999”.
The instrumentals match Joey’s flashy bars. The elegant piano riffs and 90’s inspired boom-bap production gives the whole album a classy, luxurious feel, vastly different from the gritty New-York sound of “1999”. “Brand New 911”, in my opinion, is the best instrumental and maybe even the best song on the album, the jazzy trumpet bombarded with Westside Gunn’s adlibs just oozes Brooklyn, also Joey’s laid-back cool contrasts Gunn’s louder delivery perfectly, both end up giving great verses.
Whilst I consider 2000 to be an uplifting, feel-good album, it does have deeply emotional moments. On “Survivors Guilt” Joey talks about the loss of his cousin “Junior” and the tragic suicide of his close friend “Capital Steez”.
This isn’t the first time Joey has acknowledged Steez since his death, but it’s definitely the most open he’s been about it, Joey talks about the daily struggle he faces of not having him around and how he feels that he may have unintentionally helped in his demise.
It saddening yet touching to hear Joey talk about his Pro-Era days, when he and Steez were just two teenagers jotting down rhymes, it’s heartfelt moments like this that make this sequel so interesting and engaging to listen to.
The album’s closer, “Written in the Stars”, is another highlight of the track-list, Joey looks forward into his future, rapping about his success in the music industry and the birth of his daughter, all expertly mixed over a champagne sounding instrumental.
The song closes with a short monologue from Diddy, one of Joey’s idols, proving to us that 10 years later, the 17-year-old kid from Brooklyn finally made it.
SCORE/Excellent: “2000” is a great lyrical rap album that has the creativity to stand on its own two feet and yet the continuity to serve as a great sequel. An amazing listen for any rap fan.