Joey Bada$$ - 1999 (Mixtape Review)

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Joey Bada$$ is releasing his debut "1999" in hopes of catalyzing balance within the greater culture.

With Hip Hop's rise to prominence defined by New York's once indomitable notoriety, enthusiasts have come to exaggerate the Golden Age's purity, viewing its time with rose-colored glasses. As today's standards by which rap from the five boroughs is judged are comparably complained about, the diehards clamor for an overall return to form rooted in the straightforward boom-bap stylings of yesteryear. Recently touted as one amongst a small but significant brood with the potential to bring back an arguably antiquated East Coast sound, Joey Bada$$ is releasing his debut 1999 in hopes of catalyzing balance within the greater culture.

Having only 17 years of life experience under his belt, Joey Bada$$ aims to channel the spirit of Hip Hop from his early childhood, a goal occasionally arriving at awkward results. 1999 is likely to suffer the same criticisms as work from A$AP Rocky and Big K.R.I.T. (heavily scrutinized for building their careers on the virtue of preexistent legendary formulas), as the Brooklynite's thematic conceptual effort seeks to strictly serve the agendas of old fashioned backpackers. While technically rapping with a wisdom beyond his years, his style is replete with awkward time signatures predating the internet ("Survival Tactics" being his online introduction, a song whose promise 1999 struggles to match), that would have fit better as a part of the now extinct famed Lyricist Lounge ciphers.

A collection of new creations mainly backed by already released beats, 1999 is perhaps best considered retrospective homage to the likes of MF Doom and Lord Finesse, (both of whom have featured production on the effort - with Doom on "World Domination" and Lord Finesse on "Funky Ho'$") with respect to Statik Selektah, whose modernized contribution "Don't Front" is a welcome departure from the bulk of the project. Other bright moments such as the eloquence of "Righteous Minds" breaking down the realities of street life are all but canceled out by the dull flow of "Snakes" and "Suspect," a nearly 12-minute plodding posse cut featuring Joey's Pro-Era crew.

Where Joey Bada$$ lures in elitists sure to find themselves elated by his show of respect for the past, he subjects himself to backlash as his creativity is a simultaneous gift and curse. Overall, 1999's careful tracing of long established blueprints gives rise to debate on whether the newcomer presents a worthwhile reminder of Hip Hop's so-called glory days or if he risks placing himself in a nostalgic box despite his trajectory having just recently begun.

DX Consensus: "EP-worthy"

Listen to 1999 by Joey Bada$$

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86 Comments

  • Nicolas Callejas

    KING of NY

  • andy

    B4.Da.$$ is gonna be fucking amazing

  • jimmybarlow

    this kid has a bright future

  • Kyle

    Best Mixtape of 2012! Can;t wait for B4.Da.$$ coming this fall!! BROOKLYN!!

  • bobby

    This is the most inspiration stuff I've heard as an emcee in 2012. Straight top notch.

  • Fudge FILTHY Fresh

    I haven't enjoyed Hip-Hop in a long time. I'm what some would say is an "Old Head" (41) & I'm greatly appreciative of his respect for the culture. This cat SPITS... it's nice to know there are eMCeez out there & not just rappers. SALUTE!!!!

  • Sifiso

    A 17 year old spittin' like that?!?! Kid is godly.

  • Dylann1

    One of the best mixtapes I've heard in a long time.

  • Dylann17

    Brilliant mixtape. 5 Stars.

  • Anonymous

    This tape is iller than smallpox. Joey is the future.

  • Mario TheRevolutionary

    This young nigga got mad skills. He's way more mature than these other young dudes. Hell some of these old cats too. I see a bright future in hip hop.

  • huh

    Lets be realists. 4/5

  • Anonymous

    Nino Graye & Joey Bada$$ collab would be off the fuckin hook.super hip-hop

  • E.J.

    I disagree with hiphopdx's review. This has the makings of Album of the Year and it's only a mixtape. Nice flow, good beat selection, good nostalgic feel without sounding dated. I'd like to see how he sounds on original beats next time because I know a few of these beats are old.

  • Anonymous

    This lil nigga nice I'm. Excited about hiphops future expect more younger Mc's to come outta no where.

  • E

    5 star mixtape cannot be fucked with

  • Anonymous

    ep-worthy wha the fuck is that supposed to mean? half the eps they realease today are shitty anyways

  • sam

    this is a bit harsh - should review it for what is, a solid mixtape on a 90's boom bap tip

  • Stringer Bell

    This kid is a genius. I hope he'll stay in his own lane.

  • GOODBEDFORD

    YO this albums is future proof. It will always be good. Give this young man some professional props.

  • Anonymous

    FUUQQ YEEZ MY NIKKAS FINALLY IT HAPPENED - JUST GOT A NEW RIDE - A CAM A RO CONVERTIBLE.GOT APPROVED FOR 26 LARGE. BEEN 5 YRS SINCE IVE GOTTEN SHYT APPROVED, BUT NOW ALL MY CRE-DIT SHEET GONE. ALL OF IT. IF YOU STRUGGLING WITH THAT CREDITT HISTORY ISHH, GET RID OF ALL DAT TODAY - CALL THESE PEEPS AT 8^8^8-9-2-7 -3-3-5-6. . THEY DO AMAZING WORK AND THEY ARE CHEAP AS FUQQ. GOT RID OF ALL MY SHYYT IN NO TIME. MY HOMEBOY WAS IN THE GUTTA TOO, AND HE CLEANER THAN ME NOW-gettin a condo!! Hit em up - THEY WILL HELP U!!

  • P

    Niggas be jelly but fuck it though its the jam... Best release since section80. Yeah beats are 90s familiar but lyrics are dope. Say I'm putting too much effort in these nouns and verbs But they gon catch up (ketchup) so fuck what you must heard (mustard)

    • Anonymous

      Or "fuck what you MUSTERED"...

    • thatfreshniqqa

      ya, i've heard better from mainstream rappers. in fact, i've heard better in mainstream songs. eminems quadruple entendre in "Not Afraid" was pretty cool. people hopping onto joey bada$$ dick because they heard from other people that he "the truth" and spit real shit. but there's so many people better than him...

  • Jay

    one of the best projects

  • Luzh

    I must be getting old because I feel like I am the only one with a problem with this boy of 17 rapping about bitches and hoes. In my mind he is referring to 14, 15,16 and 17 year old girls and I have a problem with children of that age being referred to as bitches. Call me naive but I do not think a 15 year old can be a hoe. Even if she lets every boy in 9th grade get fresh that is still a baby. We need to save the kids people!

  • Tom Hansen

    Content: 3/5 Guest Spots: 4/5 Lyrics: 4/5 MC: 4.5/5 Production: 4.5/5

  • Shane

    Real good its a rare event to hear something this dope coming from new artists these days.

  • Shady 2.0

    whow wait a minute now I'm a fan of Tito Lopez but you call "The Hunger Games" a "Free Album" and this "EP-worthy" now that can't be right I know it's two different reviewers but you shouldn't have inconsistency like this if this was an album it would be a straight solid 4/5 to a 4.5/5! Dude has got "it" and I don't even know what "it" is but he's got it lol, his flow is his best asset he has a flow that rappers that are 30+ would be envious of, his lyrics are unbelievable for a 17 year old okay not as good as Nas when he was 18/19 but artists like Nas don't come around very often and maybe Joey's lyricism will get even better now he's in the game and will get to work with better artists the monotone did get on my nerves a bit but I got over it, it's not as bad as Mac Miller's... It's a breath of fresh air ironically doing what he's doing now I don't know if this is the type of music he's always gonna make or to just brake into the game but I say he should keep it at least for his first album and then evolve. "Free Album"

  • Xeno

    I think it's a great album but definitely no classic. This guy doesn't really do anything new he just brings you back the 90's feel which is a great thing considering he's only 17 but to be able to put out a classic album he probably needs to grow as an artist more. still I enjoyed it much.

    • MightyMike27

      "you don't pour your soul until the album?" ha! I wish this was true nowadays. Nowadays we see the artist's soul in the mixtape and the label's soul in the album.

    • CHRIS

      its a mixtape, playboy! He's only supposed to give you a taste. They got ya'll folks spoiled these days, you don't pour your soul out until the album. You don't give them everything on a mixtape full of you freestyling over other folks beats. That's all this is, a freestyle joint where he's flexing his skillz and paying homage to the golden era. If he's done his homework, he knows he don't give yalll nothin until the real project drop. patience brothers

  • Anonymous

    classic tape. arguably the best release thus far in the 2012 scheduled year thus far.

  • Anonymous

    hell yeah my pro era nigga shoutout to all my young niggas in the tristate area joey makin that shit for us to be blastin to ctnynj everyone go download this shit twice

  • Jazzmatazz

    This should have been rated a Free Album. This is super dope. Let the Joey v. Earl debates begin. Don't Front gives me chills. Super fly joint.

    • Shady 2.0

      Joey more like Tyler... If you think of Pro Era vs. Odd Future, Chuck Strangers more like Earl. But Pro Era are better obviously listen to "Suspect" vs. "Oldie"

  • Anonymous

    this is his first mixtape and its fire, just watch him mature as an artist

  • Jake

    Joey Bada$$ is the best 17 year old emcee since Nas/Big L. Love what these kid's stand for. Hardknock is CRACK

  • ThaKritic

    Okokok... mans can spit... I know all YMCMB overlookin' this man.. thass ok... Its kids like Joey that give the future of Real hip hop some hope.. Im not tryna bag on the new age of Rap.. some Artist to this day styll hold it down.. If only more niggas rapped like joey doe.. This nigga a beast and has so many years of life ahead of em to make it.. this only the begining.. 5stars, If anyone can tell me why his tape called "1999" lemme kno. #RealHipHop

    • rappersworshipsatan

      That's 666 upside down. He said he sold his soul for the music. Quote-"I traded in my nikes for a new mic."

  • Anonymous

    i been bumping this tape since it came out such a breathe of fresh air and dude is still a teenager he only gonna get better Joey Bada$$>>>>>>>>Lil Wayne Officer Ricky 5 dicks French Montana Wale Tyga etc etc

  • Anonymous

    I don't ususally come on here and bitch about reviews but this review is pretty much bullshit. This is one of the best things to come out so far this year and for such a solid debut from a 17yr old, there aren't many positives mentioned in the review. If you want to read a proper review go check Pitchfork...and that's not even a hip-hop site http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/16864-1999/

  • Gill

    Amazing. Falls into top 5 hip-hop releases of the year for me. Scary thing is he's only 17!

    • Anonymous

      So were Hav and P when they released Juvenile Hell. If you ask me, the best talent, especially from NY, comes from the youngins.

  • doja

    boring shit for backpackers to gobble up. when I heard survival tactics I was excited, then I snoozed through this tape.

    • lloyd

      backpackers still exist? gaaaaaaaaaaaay

    • sofakingbold

      So go listen to the radio. There's plenty of buffoon music you can dance to. I'm not a backpacker, but I think this mix tape is on point. I'll blast this in my pj's any day.And I'm from queens BTW. Your screen name suits you.

  • Jamaal

    Perfect name for a perfect Mixtape. 1999 literally takes you back to 99. I find myself listening to this mixtape over and over. I don't know if the nostalgia will wear off with Joey Bada$$ future projects, but for right now 1999 is perfect.

  • racmatic

    A deviated review with the right rating 4.5 Joey Bada$$ 1999 mixtape is true NY music. at 17 he got that Nas intelligence, he isn't copying Nas or anyone from the 90's just paying respect to the Golden Age of rap. Respect Joey and his crew

  • Anonymous

    It seems like the whole review you're tip-toeing around shitting on him, because you know he's a popular newcomer, but then you give the grade of EP-worthy... Stick to your guns, Fairfax. And we get it, you have a nice vocabulary, but again, it isn't at all clear what you really think or how this music made you feel. Completely devoid of the writer's opinion.

    • Anonymous

      @racmatic, the 4.5 is the average user's review, not hiphopdx's

    • racmatic

      Totally agree with you. read the review which has nothing to do with the quality of the mixtape. Rating was good but why the 4.5? I've been bumping since it first came out and its a solid tape. go cop it

  • @CJonno90

    Let's not forget this dude is what 17? I'm glad he hasn't took influence from what he's hearing today...

  • Edge

    What this review fails to mention is, If he grasps hold of production from Statik and Chuck Strangers for further projects and albums, hes not going to have to worry about backlash. No one is forcing him to make elitist music but at the same time theres that pressure to innovate. Dudes like Mac Miller made their name of showing younger audiences what happened before the Southern/808/Edm sound took over without even being serious about It and even succumbing to the pressures to make crap themselves. So theres this familiarity of the sound with a younger audience already. I feel like some of the producers I mentioned innovated, which you notice in beats like From The Tomb$. Chuck Strangers uses a sample from the soundtrack of LA Noire (video game). While he places the go steta chant underneath, giving the song a Brooklyn feel but not being quite detracting from the jazzed out sample. That authentic New York sound is going to attract all sorts of criticism. Theres alot of people in the music biz that have vested interest in It not returning, because If It returns, skills return and If MC's ain't got skills well... All in all It was great first effort that cements his place in hip hop. He could very well be the driving force behind a modern day Hip Hop renaissance.

    • Chris Newberry

      Props to you for spellin out what the true fear is, bro. They don't want real hip hop artists and true originals who "pay homage" to prosper, so they insult them for it and try to make them out to be something they arent. THey can't say the music is wack, so they say "its dated". They can't say he can't rhyme, so they say "he's too young to be rapping about these subjects". I haven't even listened to the whole joint yet, but now I am definitely gonna shoot home, crack a cold one, and give this young man a listen. I'm sure if he's as good as the single I heard him on was, I will not be disappointed. Props to EDGE for telling the truth about the FEAR of REAL SKILLS and INSPIRED HIP HOP returning in 2012. Support real hip hop yall!

  • word up

    Some real good shit right here! I hope when he gets his budget/album he actually writes checks to a lot of these '90s cats he's beat-jackin'. I seen it happen a lot where cats get hot on "knowing" and then don't do shit about it.

    • CHris

      come on son! You gonna give royalty checks to someone for a free project you gave away!LOL You was just poppin jokes, right?

    • Anonymous

      Theres only one issue with this, Its a mixtape. Im sure the 90's cats know this.

  • Royal Jonsun

    It's a great start, & illustrates where his head is. I met BadA$$ at the Ghost show in Prospect Park. In the few moments of exchange you get a distinct sense of intelligence & purpose. And that's how I would also describe 1 9 9 9, intelligent & full of purpose. I compare allot of R.A.P. to fast food, you can eat it, it will fill you up, it might taste good, however, it has no nutritional value. Much of what is produced today in music in my opinion have the same characteristics, you can listen to it, it might sound good, however has no substance. That said, BadA$$ takes an entertaining &. substantive approach. It's definitely refreshing, & I believe it well only get better & more original after this homage to the era, the flow foundation. Respect to the past, & Props to the future!