With his sophomore album still on repeat in Viper HQ, we had to check out Joey Bada$$’ interview with Ebro Darden on Beats1. The two discussed everything about his new album, ‘All-Amerikkkan Bada$$’ including the stunning line up of collaborators.
Peep the video and full transcript…
Talk about the sounds, the artists and the producers you’re working with
JOEY: You know with this album I really wanted to just like every album you want to get to that next level. This album brought me to a level where I’m no longer rapping just to beats. Rapping to beats where I just do a little post-production after. With all of the music on this album it’s like we really made from scratch, from the ground up with my direction. I orchestrated it. I put this musician with this musician, paired them together and I told them where to go. Shoutout to 1-900, Kirk Knight, Powers Pleasant, Statik Selektah, DJ Khalil.
What do you feel is the most musical and poignant record on All-Amerikkkan Bada$$?
Joey: I got to say that last one. The last record, “American Idol.”
On using live instrumentation on the record
JOEY: When I first started writing the music, a lot of the production that I used to select like just beats from YouTube, I remember taking instrumentals from the Jazz Liberators. They made all their things from real live instruments or even taking something from Madlib who might of sampled some live instruments. I’ve always wanted to create music like this. To answer that question it’s definitely yes but I didn’t have all the resources. I just now access the resources with this album. I learned how to do it so now we on.
Was money the lack of resource?
JOEY: To be honest it was less about money, it was just more about experience and timing. Timing with meeting the right people because even with 1-900 I knew him since 2014. We didn’t start working on music heavy ‘till 2015-2016. But you know 1-900 is half of Astor.
EBRO: He’s busy. You’re busy.
JOEY: Exactly, we finally found time to make it work and everything. He’s just a musical poindexter.
Some of the topics you touching on the album are things that are painful for people to deal with. We’re you afraid of that?
JOEY: No I wasn’t because everything I talk about is things that I strongly feel should be spoken about. During the making of this project, before I even made it I was going through a point in my life where as a young black musician I was feeling connected to a lot of things you would see in the news. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. And granted we got our own community problems fo sho. Just seeing that pushed to the mass media, to the mass collective conscious, it was affecting all of us. Like I felt really close with it, I felt like damn that could happen to my cousin or that could happen to me. That could happen to my dad. You know what I’m saying?
EBRO: Or it already has.
JOEY: Or it already has. I just started feeling responsible. The real side of me, just the human side of me was feeling connected to it cause I felt so close to it. The musician side of me started feeling responsible, not responsible for what was happening, but responsible on how we can change it. How we could bring more awareness to certain situations. This project, I’m glad you said it, it’s about my experience as a black man in America, but it’s not just my experience. It’s your experience.
EBRO: My dad. Your dad. Uncles. Cousins. Everybody.
JOEY: Our brothers. So I just felt like I was responsible to make this music and deliver this message. That’s the soul part of me. That’s my spirit right there. I felt like this is a part of my sole mission on this earth. It’s to wake up, inspire, to inform. Me having the power that I have, which is my voice, I’m gonna do all that I can to use that voice for good. That power for good.
EBRO: But one of the first lines in “Land of the Free” you say “can’t change the world unless we change ourselves.”
JOEY: I remember when “Devastated” first came out, right. The way of explaining what the album was gonna be, I was telling people like “Alright “Devastated is like an organic candy. It’s sweet, but it’s good for you. The rest of the music is like pure vegetables.” It’s really funny that you say that because people got to understand that their diet is not just what they eat. You’re diet is everything you consume. Whether it be you scrolling down your Instagram feed all day. All of these things affect you in some way. Some way shape or form especially after doing it over and over, over a long period of time.
Working with Schoolboy Q on “Rockabye Baby”
JOEY: This Q record was really super organic. Chuck Strangers made the beat and I remember just being in L.A. and I was in the studio. I just landed. I was so eager to work. Just ready. I’m like “Chuck play some beats,” first beat he played was that and as soon as I heard it, I was like ok. Just started coming up with the verse. And as soon as I laid the verse down I’m like Q. I got to get Q on this. It’s funny cause I had my family with me, you know involved in that life. I actually wanted Q and YG on it.
EBRO: To bring it full circle.
JOEY: To really show the unity. A lot of people don’t know that that’s the basis of gangs. Gangs were the original neighborhood watch. You know what I’m saying, the original neighborhood police.
EBRO: Just like the mob or any of that.
JOEY: Yeah, but it’s different because you know in the black communities the police don’t come and help us with our needs. We don’t even like calling the police. You know what the relationship is there. It used to be a thing where we used to call on the big homie like “yo there’s a problem over here.” Even with this music that’s something I want to get back to. That’s something I want to influence my brothers in that life to get back to. If y’all gonna be doing that, then let’s really do this like how it originally was.
EBRO: Some soldiers that’s really gonna take care of the community.
JOEY: You feel me. I think that’s what it should be because we can’t call on the police for help. We know these dudes on the corner. That’s our family. That’s our brothers. So lets really make it about something. Let’s police ourselves because we could do it. We could do it but, we just brainwashed to do the opposite.
How “Super Predator” came together
JOEY: So the way this record came about is so Statik Selektah made the beat. This is actually one of the clutch joints that in the last final stages of the album. I probably like already mixed everything and then out of nowhere I went by Statik’s crib, he played the beat it was done. So I had the record for probably a month before I even thought about Styles getting on it.
EBRO: He was talking about Obama and the food and all that.
JOEY: Yeah so you know Styles started getting into his zone and everything and I was just feeling everything he was saying and out of nowhere he was like “Yeah, you know the super predator era. I was apart of that.” As he said that I’m like “Yeah, he needs to be on this record right here.” I literally called him. I stopped the interview before we even finished watching it. Called him up like “Yo I need this verse,” and he was like “How soon do you need it beloved?” I’m like tomorrow.
On working with Chronixx
JOEY: That’s my brother, man. Shoutout to Chronixx, the whole Zincfence family.
EBRO: Y’all around the same age now. You both were coming up around the same time.
JOEY: It’s interesting cause me and Chronixx have so many similarities. Just like the way he came up verses the way I came up. It’s not that many differences between a black man coming up in America and a black man coming up in the Caribbean Islands. So we always connect on that level.
What inspired “Y U Don’t Love Me (Miss Amerikkka)”
JOEY: This album is so conceptual. I often find I run out of space to cater to my more feminine side of music making. I literally got a pool of songs that I made just for women, so it’s hard for me to really cater to the females as much as I want to. So I was like alright, I’m gonna speak about my domestic relationship with Miss America. That was my whole approach with it and everything, but I definitely feel you on that man. It’s like I also find it weird that black people are the only people who aren’t allowed to be racist. Racism is totally different from bigotry.
EBRO: And prejudice.
JOEY: And prejudice, yeah exactly. It’s almost as if we’re not allowed to practice racism, which means keeping your dollar inside your community. Which means buying black. Shopping black. Which only means supporting black. Black being your first option. We’re wrong when we do that. We’re the only race that’s not allowed to practice racism so I just wanted to drop that because I think that’s important for people just to think about.
Did you visualize success beyond the music industry?
JOEY: Ya that part I seen. You know acting was something I’ve always been interested in. I went to high school for screen and theatre. That’s what I got accepted into Edward R. Murrow for. Every high school that was on my list was for that. There’s no school you can go to for rapping or lyricism. Music was always my number one thing, but I’m like alright when it comes to school, let me at least go for something else that I like. Acting was number one right after that. I’m just gonna use music to leverage that because the acting world is probably harder than it is harder in the music world. To gain success especially in New York City. You know how much young actors or actresses is out there. So I already knew me being a rapper would help me with that.
EBRO: Cause you already kinda had a profile and you had a following.
JOEY: Exactly and it’s like yo, it will help. Movies for me to be in it. So I knew that was going to work. With the modeling, girls always told me I was cute so I went for it.
EBRO: I’m here for it. I love watching ya’ll. I’m loving you, Rocky. Go get it B. Go get it.
Working with J. Cole on “Legendary”
JOEY: So, let me tell the story. It was my “Waves” record that I put out on my 1999 mixtape, which is also one of my first singles in the game. So one day Cole hit me up like “come through to the studio here in New York” and he was like “alright look now, so the reason I asked you to come here is cause I want to play you this record.” So before he played the record he was like “Let me just tell you the story behind the record.” He got back to a point in his life where he was off tour and he was resorting back to just regular life. Sitting on the couch watching Netflix or scrolling on YouTube looking for just random instrumentals. Through that he came across my “Waves” instrumental and he said when he seen it, he already knew it was mine, but the beat just spoke to him right away. So he decided to pen to it. After he wrote what was “False Prophets” he was like damn I got to record this cause he fell in love with what he wrote. What he wrote was amazing. So he recorded it and boom. So he’s like “Look basically I’m just asking for your blessing, that’s it. I want to put this record out but I need your blessing on it.” Word, like you got my blessing. What people don’t know is Cole used to be one of favorite rappers. Like when I was 15/16 it was Cole and Kendrick. Because a lot of people were hitting me up like “Yo you not mad he stole your beat?” Cause Cole already told me he was getting me my verse and literally he told me “Yo, Joey you’re the only person I got on my feature list. Like I ain’t doing no more features. Only your feature is the one that’s important to me.” Literally the day before 4 Your Eyez Only came out, he sent the verse back.
On future tours
EBRO: You gonna do the big festivals this year?
JOEY: It’s coming soon. We gonna announce tour this year, gonna be really interesting. I’m doing something I’ve done before. Amphitheaters, that’s all I’m gonna say.
New Pro Era material
EBRO: Nyck Caution’s music is incredible.
JOEY: Ya, let’s talk about Pro Era. What’s coming that’s after me is a new experiment that we’re working on which is Nyck at Knight. Which is Nyck Caution and Kirk Knight joining forces. They made this incredible body of work and we’re very excited to share it.
EBRO: Both of them on production. Both of them on bars.
JOEY: No, no, Kirk on production, both of them on bars. And you know there’s one Chuck Strangers beat on there cause we’re a family. Their growth is insane. Kirk’s beat game. Yeah, 2017. It’s lit.
EBRO: So there’s gonna be another Pro Era tour after you’re done and they release.
JOEY: Yeah, we’re trying to line it up for the winter. Like back to school tour.