Joey Bada$$ – “2000” review

Joey Bada$$ is a 27 year old MC, singer & actor from New York City who came up as a founding member of the Pro Era & Beast Coast collectives. His debut mixtape 1999 just celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary last month & has gone on to become a classic, but Rejex was a decent collection of leftovers & Summer Knights was an solid prelude to his full-length debut. B4.DA.$$ eventually came on his 20th birthday & lived up it to it’s expectations by expanding on the vibes of 1999, but Joey’s sophomore effort ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ revealed it be unquestionably the most political he’s ever been. 5 long years later, Joey’s officially giving us a sequel in the form of his 3rd album.

“The Baddest” is a piano-tinged opener produced Erick the Architect with Joey referring to himself as the baddest motherfucker in all of NY whereas “Make Me Feel” goes into boom bap turf thanks to Statik Selektah confessing that the haters made him take a hiatus for a bit. “Where I Belong” keeps the dustiness going taking about takin’ risks every time he hits the door leading into Westside Gunn coming into the picture for “Brand New 911” to bring in a jazzy instrumental that Chuck Strangers has cooked up getting on their fly shit.

Meanwhile on “Cruise Control”, we have Joey over a cloudy trap beat from Mike WiLL Made-It & Cardiak talking about staying 10 toes down just before “Eulogy” returns to the boom bap shouting out all his homies that’re sittin’ on the big wheels. “Zipcodes” has yet another jazzier tone to the production provided by Kirk Knight talking about doing this with ease, but then “One of Us” with Larry June finds the 2 shooting for a smoother aesthetic calling out the people who wish they were them.

“Welcome Back” on the other hand is definitely the weakest cut on the album from the bland trap instrumental to the Chris Brown verse & the tepid subject matter while “Show Me” returns to a boom bap aesthetic talking about wanting to be proven that his lover cares for her. “Wanna Be Loved” with J.I.D. has a more nocturnal sound to it expressing their desire to be appreciated while the song “Head High” is a jazz-inflicted ode to those who’re no longer here. The penultimate track “Survivor’s Guilt” comes through with a heart-wrenching tribute to Capital STEEZ & “Written in the Stars” sends off the album in glory rightfully talking about being a legend.

Some people tried to write Joey off because of “THE REV3NGE” & even I’ll admit myself that it was a Great Value version of the J. Cole single “Middle Child”, but I don’t see how anyone who loves 1999 as much as I do can dislike 2000. He really does an excellent job at recapturing the magic that made his debut mixtape one of the best of the 2010s & puts a more mature twist on it.

Score: 4.5/5

Mick Jenkins – “The Circus” review

This is the 4th EP from Chicago emcee Mick Jenkins. Who rose to fame in 2014 with the release of his 3rd mixtape The Water[s]. He then released his debut album The Healing Component & now just a little over a year after his sophomore album Pieces of a Man, he’s taking listeners on a trip to The Circus.

The anti-industry anthem “Same Ol’” still slaps as hard as it did when it first appeared on Mick’s 2018 EP or more…The Frustration & then the next song “Carefree” talks about enjoying life over a smooth Black Milk beat. “The Light” with EARTHGANG talks about taking time & not rushing things over a cloudy beat while the track “Flaunt” of course sees Mick flexing over a druggy beat. “The Fit” gets more insightful over an intoxicating whereas the song “I’m Convinced” talks about how “people know the feelings” over a woozy instrumental. The EP then finishes with “Different Scales”, where Mick continues to show off his smart pen game over a somber boom bap instrumental.

As much as I enjoyed Mick’s last album, this EP was just ok. The rapping is fine, but the beats are hit or miss with me personally. Whenever his next album is coming, I hope the production choices are a lot better.

Score: 3/5

Mick Jenkins – “Pieces of a Man”

Mick Jenkins is a 27 year old rapper from Chicago, Illinois who blew up in 2014 with the release of his 3rd mixtape The Waters. He then released his debut album The Healing Component & after the release of a couple EPs since then, he’s ready to deliver his long-awaited sophomore album.

The intro “Heron Flow” starts off as a spoken word piece, but then a funky ass instrumental kicks in halfway through. The first actual song “Stress Fracture” tackles his inner demons over a mellow Black Milk instrumental while the track “Gwendolynn’s Apprehension” is about this person who isn’t on the same page as Mick another Black Milk instrumental albeit with a heavy J Dilla influence to it. The song “Soft Porn” is a decently slow sex jam while the track “Grace & Mary” is about how he wakes up praising the higher power over a bass-heavy beat with some keyboards & synths. However, it’s way too short.

The song “Barcelona” is a shot at lyrical cliches over a gritty beat & after the Percy interlude, the next song “Reginald” is essentially about not letting your partner count up your drug money over a relaxing instrumental. The track “Padded Locks” with Ghostface Killah sees the 2 wildin’ out over a KAYTRANADA instrumental with a prominent BADBADNOTGOOD sample while the song “Ghost” talks about his rise to success is over an instrumental with some jazzy keyboards.

The track “Heron Flow 2” is pretty much a reprise of the opener & the song “Plain Clothes” is an awkward attempt at going materialistic over a blissful trap beat. The track “Pull Up” vividly talks about a friend of his over gloomy boom bap beat while the song “Consensual Seduction” is another romantic slow jam. The track “U Turn” is about wanting to smack people who think they know him over another slow instrumental albeit with a prominent organ while the funkily KAYTRANADA produced “Understood” follows it up perfectly. The “Smoking Song” that finishes the album of course is about marijuana over some live bass playing.

For all the hype, this was totally worth it. I’d shave off a couple tracks, but it’s a lot more focused & the concept is more consistent than that of The Healing Component as is the jazz-influenced production that one can catch on Mick’s work in the past.

Score: 4/5