By Eric Carman
Drawing a crowd of thousands to a rap concert in a foreign country is no small feat, especially for a 19-year-old.Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott, known as Joey Bada$$, is a hip-hop artist from the New York-based collective Pro Era who has proven that age is only a digit with the beginning of his world tour in Australia.
The release of his first full-length studio album “B4.Da.$$” is a significant milestone for the rising young talent. Although Pro Era has produced many mixtapes and compilations over the past three years, this album brings the group into a new spotlight, and will no doubt earn Scott much more publicity.
Scott has been a performer since he was 16, doing small venue shows and making his first ever TV appearance in 2012 on Jimmy Fallon’s “Late Show.” It is clear some tracks are designed with stage performance in mind, such as the powerful and energized “No. 99,” in which he takes on the identity of an anti government freedom-fighter named Badmon. the track is over a hard and gritty base line accompanied with a rock-and-roll drum kit. The overall tone of the song is wild and over-the-top, which seems to rise and fall throughout the course of the album.
The overall message that can be drawn from Scott’s lyrics ties into the album’s title, in that Scott seems to suggest that art should be prioritized over the actual wealth it generates. In the song “Big Dusty” he says: “If it ain’t real I don’t feel it, If it don’t hit my spirit I don’t get near it.” He seems to have a strong conviction that modern musical art is too saturated with the chase for profit, and thinks that artists tend to put up on a false persona to please the media.
While “B4.Da.$$” has quality production and an enjoyable sound, there is something very familiar about it. Joey Bada$$’s sound is very unique, however it seems to be very untouched from his last mixtape “Summer Knights.” He still has the same rhythm as he did one year ago, and doesn’t do much to expand his style.
The only real stretch out of his comfort Scott makes is on the bonus track “Teach Me,” where he raps double-time to a funky 90’s groove tune with the chorus repeating “Let me teach you how to dance, how to dance.” The track is interesting and fun, but nothing very special. Some might say that Scott is better off sticking to what he knows.
Out of 10, I give the album a 7. Any fans of hip-hop can find enjoyment in the tracks, and appreciate the quality of music produced by the 19-year-old Joey Bada$$.