Joey Bada$$, “All-Amerikkkan Bada$$”
With All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, Joey Bada$$ fires away at the racist inhumanity he sees in America. For he and “[his] people trying to stay alive and just stay peaceful,” as he raps in “For My People,” a portrait of war and peace graces the album’s cover: an American flag made of Blood-red and Crip-blue bandanas.
All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ begins viciously, with the wake-up call “Good Morning Amerikkka,” on which he makes clear that “some of us woke while some stay snoozed.” The track is a showcase for the rest of the record: It’s heavy in groove, sometimes inciting dance and other times melancholy, but it’s always a labyrinth.
According to poet Louis Aragon, we die without having said everything, but I don’t think Bada$$ believes in such a thing. He fits as much in here as he possibly can: political sloganing, odes to swag, hymns to his crew, and so on. “Super Predator,” a street thriller with a stealthy message, is no less important than “Land of the Free,” a more direct protest song: They are both a part of a larger project of telling. That said, he’s better at protest; when he denounces “Amerikkka,” it’s done with complexity and agility.
Any art that pours out of social criticism is an attempt at reorganizing society, and all Bada$$ wants is for his country to respect black lives. “It’s another black man died at the white hand of justice / To tell the truth, man, I’m fuckin’ disgusted,” he raps in “Babylon,” and it’s the will that powers him toward his goal: to make way for the black person and his or her actual emotions in society, and to move this society forward in doing so.