Dillo Artist Profile: Joey Bada$$
By Audrey Valbuena
Brooklyn-born Joey Bada$$ is making his way to Evanston this Saturday to take the stage at Dillo. Born Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott, Joey Bada$$ is a 23 year old rapper, actor, and producer. He was a founding member of Pro Era, a Brooklyn-based hip hop collective, through which he pumped out a string of promising mixtapes. Since then, he has released two studio albums: B4.DA.$$ and ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. He has described being influenced by a range of hall-of-fame rappers, from the likes of Nas, Tupac Shakur, Andre 3000, Jay Z and Notorious B.I.G. Before he takes the stage at Dillo, check out these five songs:
Joey’s best known song, “Devastated,” was placed on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, at number 25. With a balance of a powerful chorus and softer rhymes in between, “Devastated” carries a familiar tempo and simple rhythm that makes us all want to get down.
Think car keys jingling over the rough, sultry voice of A$AP Ferg. Then combine it with Joey’s fresh newness. All of this over deep beats makes for a strong sound that evokes anger and pride at the same time. This collaboration with Powers Pleasant & A$AP Ferg allows Joey’s softer sound to find space between these full voices, giving a dynamic range to his body of work.
Reminiscent of J. Cole (who is featured elsewhere in ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$) with bars over melodic guitar strings Joey brings a power to his art that was lacking in his earlier work. He speaks of trying issues, among them white supremacy, with the line “Out for dead presidents that represent me.” “AMERIKKKAN IDOL” in its name and its bars, gives Joey a new look as the young and thoughtful artist, something of a prelude to Childish Gambino’s most recent release.
In sound and name, we feel pain. “Y DON’T YOU LOVE ME” reeks with sorrow—using the metaphor of a relationship to talk about police violence and American racism. It’s clearly a tortured relationship: drums and trumpets and techno beats mix in a sort of organized chaos that evokes the hurt America places on Joey. These sighs of pain speak Joey’s truth.
An initially questionable addition to Joey’s collection, this collaboration with Glass Animals proves the beauty of this unlikely pair. Joey raps over strange sounds—soft drops and awkward pangs. Glass Animals brings a techno sound while Joey brings the anger without which the song would fall apart. Hard-hitting vocals over the soft gooey voice of Glass Animals’ lead singer give this song a disorienting sound, but in the way that A Clockwork Orange shocks us into awareness of our own being. With an album cover displaying cut-open durian fruit, the song suggests a foul smell—which it almost leaves, but in an intense and satisfying way.