"He told me never to forget, and never to force it. To embrace this time and glorious moments."
Joey Bada$$ - Feather (prod. by Nujabes)
This was recorded three years ago when Joey Bada$$ first started making his own hip-hop at the age of 15. You can actually tell how much he improved in just a year by comparing this to the music he made at 16. The instrumental for Feather is also my second favorite Nujabes production. I’ve used it a couple times for my mashups, such as Tupac - Hold On To A Feather (Nujabes Mashup). I also enjoy that at 0:29 his voice clearly cracks, “keep my he-EAd to the sky”, further exemplifying just how young he is.
"Lil’ nigga came up, 15; I snatched the microphone.
Better than these dudes that got twice my testosterone.”
Here are some of my favorites that I’ve already reviewed.
Joey Bada$$ - Two Lips (Prod. by J Dilla)
Joey Bada$$ has stated before in an interview that J Dilla is his all time favorite producer. So you can imagine why it’s an especially big deal for him, given that unlike the two songs Where It’$ At and Snakes off of his mixtape 1999 that utilize J Dilla beats, Two Lips boasts a completely unreleased instrumental from the legendary producer, courtesy of Maureen Yancey (aka J Dilla’s mother). She is also the founder of the J Dilla Foundation, and is using the seven-inch record sales of this song to help further fund the foundation’s goal, which is to provide instruments and music lessons for less fortunate children. I would link the site where you can buy them at, but in just two days after being released on Black Friday everything is already sold out.
The instrumental definitely possesses that J Dilla vibe with its muddy drums and whimsical keyboard. Joey also delivers some really incredible lyricism. He’s still only 18, yet many of his verses, such as with Bird’s Eye View, represent some of the most distinguished in the game right now. The ending is magnificent and particularly appropriate being spit over a Dilla beat. Here are the lyrics.
"He told me never to forget, and never to force it. To embrace this time and glorious moments. ‘Cuz you could die in a second, so open up within before I get to dissectin’. I woke up again, but this time forgettin’. Scratchin’ my chin, like ‘that was rather interestin”. I turn to the small coffee table on the right. Pick up my pen and turn on my thinkin’ light….Having somersaulted my eyelids, awaken from a dream to perceive that I live.”
My Song Rating: 8.9 out of 10
Statik Selektah - Bird’s Eye View (ft. Raekwon, Joey Bada$$ & Black Thought)
The genius behind Bird’s Eye View lies mostly within its well crafted lyrics and their vividly raw delivery. Statik Selektah’s beat has many commendable qualities, but it unfortunately stays much more constant than it needs to. This song represents a significant event in 18-year-old Joey Bada$$’s career. Not only is he making his first official collab with Wu-Tang & The Roots, but he readily holds his own with one of his most potent verses ever. I actually like his verse slightly more than Raekwon’s, which speaks for itself. Overall though Black Thought steals the show. This song definitively proves Joey Bada$$ is only getting better and is here to stay. This is my favorite song off of Statik Selektah’s new album Extended Play.
"Watching the game from a bird’s eye view. They say it’s hard to keep trust so my third eye grew. Chakras open, binocular scoping, sour smoking. Hoping my best buzz ain’t only in it for the tokens."
My Song Rating: 9.6 out of 10
Capital STEEZ - Free the Robots
Jamal Dewar, also known as Capital STEEZ, was the late member of Pro Era that committed suicide on December 24th of 2012. He was one of the founders of the group and, in my opinion, was on par with Joey to be one of the standout members. Unfortunately his life and legacy was cut short leaving us with only what could have been. What I appreciate about STEEZ is how he blends his rough rhyme style with such jazzy and fluid beats. He adds so much emotion to his delivery that on any track he gets on his verse seems to stand out because of it, even if it is not the most technical in wordplay or syntax. On Free the Robots, STEEZ takes a personal stance on some of the corrupt circumstances he sees that we live in. Gradually becoming more aggressive with his flow as the beautiful beat of Diary (prod. by Free the Robots) progresses, he goes on to detail what frustrates him to ending with a declaration to never submit to the vicious life cycle of the hood that continues to swallow the youth that live there. Hip hop lost a true conscious member of its community last year, but songs that STEEZ has left behind can still be cherished. Although once you hear his passion and emotion you will start to feel the disappointment I felt once you realize something good is gone forever.
Favorite Bars -
"It’s a shame that flippin’ crack will be
The best alternative if you don’t make it rappin’
These crack houses and trap houses are trappin’ us in
And in the end we’re gonna remain stagnant
I ain’t havin’ it”
Joey Bada$$ - 20 Miles
Back in the day Joey went by the name “JayOhVee” and was planning on releasing his first mixtape at 16. He recorded some one take songs for it including 20 Miles, but since the mixtape was never released the songs stayed trapped on Joey’s computer, until now. He released 20 Miles a couple days ago, and it represents some of his earliest recording. I find it amusing yet sad that at 16 his lyrics are doper than 99% of all the other rappers out there. I still affirm though that the music Earl Sweatshirt released while he was 16 is still the greatest work to be released by any hip-hop artist at 16, or that early in their career. Joey Bada$$ has obviously refined his style since this was recorded, and I hope to see this trend continue. In a few years I can see him having one of the sharpest flows in hip-hop history, which is very appropriate since he’s from New York. If you weren’t aware, New York is home to the sharpest flowing rappers in history, such as Big L, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, and Biggie, just to name a few. Joey just needs to stay on his A game. I’ve already posted some of my other favorite songs by Joey Bada$$, such as Unorthodox (prod. by DJ Premier), Righteous Minds, and Indubitable, which you check out if you haven’t already
My Song Rating: 8.25 out of 10
This makes me happy.
Joey Bada$$ vs Earl Sweatshirt
(East Coast vs West Coast)
Overall I’d have to go with Earl Sweatshirt. Both Joey and Earl are only 18, but they are already some of the best lyricists in the game. Earl is on anther level though. The amount of time and effort he puts into his verses is astounding. I also love both of their flows, but I prefer Earl’s froggy marbled flow to Joey’s sharp New York style flow.
In the end though we’re all winners if this is what the future of hip-hop holds. Joey and Earl are going to have amazing careers, and I have a good feeling once they perfect their craft they’ll be cranking out hip-hop classics left and right. They’ve already more than proven themselves capable of such a feat.
These are some of my favorite songs by both artists that I’ve posted thus far.