Published Oct 02, 2014It doesn't matter how many units Joey Bada$$'s debut album sells or how many awards B4.Da.$$ gets nominated for. The 19-year-old wonder's delayed studio LP — which is complete and will be out before year's end, he assures Exclaim! — is already a triumph in his mind.
"It already did what it had to do for me. I played it for my mom, and my mom loved it. It's already a success," the Brooklyn MC tells us while on the road for his currently ongoing "B4.DA.$$" tour. "She listens and takes it in. She's been listening for a couple days."
Born Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott, Joey Bada$$ grew up to the diverse sounds his mom played in their Bed-Stuy home — a healthy dose of reggae, plenty of Prince, plus Nas, 2Pac and local heroes Jay Z and Biggie Smalls. (His parents split when he was five.) He says B4.Da.$$ has been in the works since he was nine years old, writing rhymes that would never make the cut.
And although MTV reported a few details on the project last week — producers include DJ Premier, Hit-Boy, Kirk Knight, Chuck Strangers, Zo Supreme and tour DJ Statik Selektah, while there's a guest spot from pop/electronic singer Kiesza — Joey refuses to divulge any details about the LP's tracklist, topics or release date. He will say that the album was recorded all over, as his Pro Era crew rolls with a travelling studio, and one of his favourite tracks was created in California. But convincing him to elaborate on any specific songs is a non-starter.
"I want it to be more of a surprise," he says. "One thing with critics and mags, if I get the people hyped up, they start expecting a whole bunch of shit. And anybody who knows me knows I hate expectations. When it comes is when it comes."
Asked if he's feeling the weight of expectations because his 2012 mixtape, 1999, shot into the stratosphere at the young age of 17, Joey gets animated.
"Yo, listen. It's not about expectations being high or being low. It's just about expectations being there, period. I don't like expectations. Expectations ruin everything. If people just accepted more things and expected less, we'd be in a better world. I don't want you to expect anything from me; I don't want you to expect me to tell you anything. Accept me as I am. And when the project comes, accept it as it is," he spits. "Expectations spread like a virus. Fuck that shit. When it comes it comes, whether you love it or not."
So far, those starved for wholesome hard New York beats and clever rhymes have been loving the music Joey has teased since 2013's Summer Knights mixtape. In addition to video/singles "Big Dusty" and "Christ Conscious," which dropped Tuesday (September 30), Joey earned the ultimate boom-bap co-sign when Premo laced him with "Unorthodox."
"He taught me a lot. He's an OG to this game, an OG to hip-hop. I learned a lot from him just chilling. He knows a lot about the women, too," Joey laughs. "He gave me direction. You always want to be perfect, you want to hit every pocket, make sure every word is heard."
Words that have struck Joey include the self-help writings of Deepak Chopra and Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. He awards them an assist for helping him manifest his success before his 20th birthday.
"I've always stayed confident in myself, just knowing I could do it," explains Joey, who's also acted in a short film for Complex TV called No Regrets. "I've been working harder so I could do it. And my Plan B is to work harder on my Plan A."
And so, during a phone call in which we expected him to plug album number one, he tells us he's already recorded a couple songs for his sophomore effort.
"Yeah, man, I don't play. I'm hungry," he says. "I'd like to win a Grammy. I'd like to perform on a Grammy stage. I'd like to finally be recognized for an award I deserve."
Down below you can see all the remaining stops on the ongoing "B4.DA.$$" tour.
10/02 Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge/Metro
10/03 Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line/Mill City
10/04 Lawrence, OH - Granada
10/05 Omaha, NE - Slowdown
10/07 Denver, CO - Gothic
10/08 Salt Lake City, UT - Complex
10/10 Seattle, WA - Showbox
10/11 Vancouver, BC - Vogue
10/12 Portland, OR - Roseland
10/14 San Francisco, CA - Fillmore
10/15 Santa Cruz, CA - Catalyst
10/16 Centura, CA - Ventura Theater
10/17 Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex
10/18 Santa Ana, CA - Observatory
10/19 San Diego, CA - World Beat
10/20 Phoenix, AZ - Club Red
10/22 Albuquerque, NM - Sunshine
10/24 Austin, TX - Scoot Inn/Emos
10/25 Dallas, TX - Southside
10/26 Houston, TX - Warehouse
10/28 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues
10/31 Tampa, FL - Orpheum
10/31 St Pete, FL - State Theatre
11/01 Orlando, FL - Firestone
11/02 Atlanta, GA - Masquerade
11/04 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
11/05 Washington, DC - Fillmore
11/07 Philadelphia, PA - TLA
11/08 New York, NY - Irving Plaza
11/11 New York, NY - Irving Plaza