Mixtape Review: Joey Bada$$/ Summer Knights.

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After pushing the tape back two weeks, and a short-lived fan backlash over his new flow on the self-directed, Pitchfork-jacked ’95 Til Infinity’ video, Joey Bada$$ dropped his new tape on July 1st. Within ten minutes of it going live, Datpiff had crashed and Live Mixtapes was soon to follow; In the first week it has been viewed over 300,000 times and was heavily featured on every hip hop blog and news site. Summer Knights is ubiquitous in its online presence right now, made all the more ill by the fact that the mind behind all this is an eighteen year old, unsigned kid from Brooklyn, whose debut album hasn’t even been released yet.

The whole tape is throwback to the golden era, 90’s boom bap sound that Joey, along with the Beast Coast crew (Pro Era, Flatbush Zombies, Phony Ppl, The Underachievers) are reviving. Lyrically shifting from Pokemon to George Pataki, via the new age movement, tales of industry pitfalls, relationships, fame and nods to countless classic rap acts; Joey and the Era sound confidently relaxed as they play with words. Managing to come across as ready for anything thrown their way while maintaining a playful nonchalance toward their delivery that lets the listener know; they’re still just warming up.

“Used to be mad premature, now I’m mad premium.”

Opening with a subdued, smooth funk horn melody,  then morphing into a laid back beat that vividly paints the summertime east coast vibe in the listeners mind; ‘Alowha’ is a fitting set up for the fast jab ‘Hillary $wank’ provides. here Bada$$ steps up the wordplay, with the second verse especially densely packing in the metaphors and similes. ” It’s the new age children of the crystal healers, thinking I’m butterfly, try to catapult caterpillars.”  The tape keeps it pumping with ‘My Yout’, Chuck Strangers holding his own next to the big name producers also featured, mixing heavy reggae sounds with an anthemic guest hook from Collie Buddz to create a guaranteed summer playlist addition.

‘Word Is Bond’ continues to raise the bar on what Joey can do over any immaculate instrumental; with his tour dj Statik Selektah managing to sample 2pac without it sounding contrived or exploitative, something you don’t hear often these days and which deserves props in itself. Backed by legendary beat crafter Alchemist on ‘Trap door’, the Brooklyn native showcases his progression in storytelling, before ‘Satellite’ brings things back to the chilled out coolness Pro Era have been delivering for over a year now; Lee Bannon’s beat especially conjuring up memories of the classic 95′ Roots LP ‘Doyouwantmore?!!!??!’.

Switching up styles to speak on his relationship in the soulful ‘Right on Time’ Joey pens an ode to his love, then steps out of the box he threatened to leave his rivals standing in on ‘1999’ by almost singing the chorus on ‘Sit N’ Prey’ and providing mellow vocal lines on ‘Reign’ a stand out track for me, closely tied with the ‘Rosie At Rubber Tracks’ reworking ‘Sorry Bonita’, proving that the mixtapes slower numbers are easily as strong as the bangers.

Vocally, he shows more range on the lead single ’95 Til Infinity’ and in places on the DOOM produced ‘Amethyst Rockstar’. In which he asks the much needed question; “When did rap turn into a fashion show? too many make up artists wont let their passion show”. From chronicling his rise to fame in the breezy ‘Sweet Dreams’,to sounding sorrowfully accepting of the tragic death of Capital STEEZ on ‘#LongLiveSteelo’ Joey bada$$ has fitted together an more cohesive sounding tape than ‘1999’, although one that is less instantly gratifying in places, and benefits from repeated listens. Hopefully the “3 million offer off the top” he asks for in the Dj Premier produced closer ‘Unorthodox’ will be offered by a company that allows him to continue to grow as an artist; but in the meantime the hype being created for his debt ‘B4da$$’ is unstoppable. 

If you don’t already have the mixtapes I’ve mentioned ( cuz maybe you’ve been living in a skip and lapping up the warm water from dirty puddles for sustenance for the last year. ) You can get them for free here: 

http://theproera.com/music/

4.5/5.

Check out the Capital STEEZ image in the album cover too if you missed it, a nice touch.

Standout Quotes:

“I dont drink too much, I know the Bud-weiser”

“These chickens don’t love me, they love the account, but they will never know the amount, I keep them ho’s in check (cheque) til they bounce”

“It ain’t always sunny on the sunny side, but I’ll stop shining when bunnies fly”

“Best rapper alive, hear that line used less often”

“You used to tell me read books, niggas booking me now”

“This is not for the soda pop niggas, take me to the leader of the new school of the block dealers,

the stories fake mcs take from those figures, is what gets fake mcs in front of loose triggers” – Kirk Knight.

Peace.

http://eyeknowhiphop.tumblr.com/ https://www.facebook.com/EyeKnowHipHop

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