Joey Bada$$ Earns His OG Status on '2000'

BY Vernon AyikuPublished Aug 17, 2022

Some albums can transport you to a time and place, and it's true of Joey Bada$$'s 1999. Released in 2012 when the Brooklyn rapper was only 17, listening to it emotionally puts you inside the bedroom of an ambitious inner-city teen with love for '90s boom-bap. If you are a millennial, you probably remember exactly how you felt hearing "Survival Tactics" or "Waves" for the first time; the infectious urgency and grit in Joey's voice leaking through the speakers. With 2000, arriving a decade on from 1999, Joey seems to have found his grit again. 
While B4.DA.$$ and All-Amerikkkan Bada$$Joey's two other studio albums, are fundamentally solid projects with high highs and modest lows, they lack the glimpses of the artist's personal life and perspective that made 1999 a visual on tape. 2000 returns to what Joey does best: storytelling from the stoop.
A true sequel, the album feels like a homecoming for Joey in both sound and setting, an update on his surroundings, perspectives and thoughts now that he has "made it." However, compared to the dirty, distorted, youthful and rebellious sounds of 1999, 2000 plays more mature, smoother and mellower. It is as if Joey returned home from a worldly 10 years on the road and picked up a pen.
On top of the subtle shift in sound, Joey's storytelling has also aged like wine. While songs like 1999's "Hardknock" told dark stories about being caught in the downward spiral of life in the hood, 2000 is filled with brightly produced tracks like "Cruise Control," a summery, early oughts-inspired bop that speaks to luxury and success. Album opener "The Baddest" features an introduction from Diddy, the ultimate sign of respect for a New York rapper and an endorsement showing just how far Joey has come in 10 years. Now a critically acclaimed Oscar winner, Joey unabashedly tells us where he thinks he is at, rapping, "Who's the best MCs? Kenny, Joey and Cole," carving himself into hip-hop's Mount Rushmore. Similarly, in the songs "Zipcodes" and "One of Us," Joey continues to boast lyrically like a man wanting for nothing.
Apart from the glitz and glamour, 2000 is a page out of the journal of the artist born Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott. On standout track "Survivors Guilt," a follow-up to "Survival Tactics," Joey addresses the tragic death of childhood friend and Pro Era groupmate, the late Capital Steez. Addressing his guilt, remorse and issues with Steez's family in the wake of the New York rapper's 2012 suicide, the song is as heart wrenching, emotional and tough to get through as one would imagine.
At age 27, Joey Bada$$ might be hip-hop's youngest veteran, but make no mistake, OG status is a privilege he has rightfully earned. On 2000, Joey raps with the wisdom of New York legends like Nas, Big Pun and Ghostface Killah. The album is emotionally mature beyond his years, and like 1999, it is a gateway to hip-hop sounds of the past while looking to the future, making for a project that shouldn't be skipped this year.
(Pro Era), (Cinematic Music Group/Pro Era)

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