Very rarely is the debut album of a rapper preceded with such a large amount of anticipation and excitement as “B4.DA.$$.” Joey Bada$$, who just celebrated his 20th birthday, has sparked a huge amount of buzz with his movement, Pro Era, as well as his 2012 mixtape, “1999,” and 2013 EP, “Summer Knights.” The positive critical reception of these releases only grew and thrived on the fact that he was a teenager when they were recorded and released. Joey’s clever wordplay and rhymes have been compared to the biggest names in hip-hop and rappers twice his age.
The album has been set up to win. How can “B4.DA.$$” be a flop when the name of the album itself is a triple entendre? It’s a play on Joey’s name, a description of the album and a stylized writing of “before da money.”
Just as unusual as the elevated expectations of this album, is the fact that it lives up to them. With production from the likes of Statik Selektah, Kirk Knight, DJ Premier, Hit-Boy and even J Dilla, it’s possible that even if Joey Bada$$ was spitting stupid and slow bars, the record would still sell. However, this is not the case. In fact Joey is at the top of his game here.
The style of B4.DA.$$ continues to maintain an old-school vibe to the beats, coinciding with new-school production value and of course Joey’s relevant and ever-complicated rhyme schemes. On “Big Dusty” he spits, “I guess my CD really shaking the coast, cause this really be the year that I feast, capice?” Other stand-out tracks are “Christ Conscious,” “On & On” and the nostalgic “O.C.B. (Only Child Blues).”
As a January release, it seems that B4.DA.$$ signals the start to a great year for hip-hop — fingers crossed, we need it — and will be a hard record to top.