#GIRLTHATSMYSONG Reintroduces Joey Bada$$


Hip-hop music is making a comeback! J Cole just made history by going platinum with no features for the second time. Kendrick Lamar keeps dropping fire, and talented emcees from the UK to New York are coming out of the woodworks. New York based hip-hop is really getting back despite the fact New York radio stations don’t really support its hometown artists anymore, but that’s another discussion. Anyway, at the height of the excitement, Girl That’s My Song decided to make a pic collage of Cole and Kendrick with the words “One Has To Go” at the bottom. I seriously thought about adding Joey Bada$$ to the pic to take it up a notch in this social media teaser.

I mean, he just dropped the very politically bold sophomore All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ LP last week after teasing fans with one hot radio freestyle after the next for weeks. In interviews, he’s  very vocal about everything from viewpoints on Donald Trump to older radio personalities who need to retire and give younger talent a chance to grow. He has a lyrical style like no other, backed by his unwavering innovation, which is exactly what propelled his debut LP into the top ten on the Billboard charts. That’s almost everything Cole and Ken did. Did I mention again how gifted he is on the mic? But in real life despite his fame among the inner-city regions of NY, bonafide hip-hop heads, and media outlets, a lot of people still don’t know who Joey Bada$$ is.

So let me give you a brief run-down. Born JoVaughn Virginie Scott to Caribbean parents in Brooklyn, Joey got known for his ability to rhyme impeccably when he posted a Youtube video of himself freestyling back in 2010 at age 15.

Somebody liked it enough to repost it to leading hip-hop outlet, World Star Hip Hop and I’m glad they did. The video quickly caught the attention of Cinematic Music Group CEO Jonny Shipes who later became Joey’s manager. But, little did I know, Joey had a circle of friends from his Edward R Murrow High school who were nice on the mic too. Prime example, Jamal Courtney Dewar aka Capital Steez—the intellectual conscious emcee who later cofounded Pro Era along with Joey, Kirk Knight, Power Pleasant, CJ Fly, and other friends from Murrow.

Steez had a gift for making great music, a gift he’d honed in on since his early childhood. Joey often says Steez is the one who influenced him and the rest of Pro Era to make music. The creative effort eventually led to a record deal for the group. In 2012 Pro Era signed with Cinematic Music Group and released their debut mixtape The Secc$ Tap.e on February 14, 2012. Joey followed up with the release of his solo debut mixtape, 1999 and Steez dropped his AmeriKKKan Korruption mixtape. Putting a visual to their political style of rhyming—reminiscent of old-school conscious hip-hop, Joey and Steez dropped the visual to the 1999 mixtape single “Survival Tactics.” The song was actually Steez’s idea and it was initially billed as “Survival Tactics” by Joey Badass X Capital Steez but when Cinematic Music Group released the visual it was credited as “Survival Tactics” by Joey Bada$$ featuring Capital Steez.

People, including myself, loved it and it was hard not to compare it to hip-hop in the early 90s. Though hip-hop heads like myself were feeling it I wasn’t sure if enough people would have gotten the message.

I was wrong, well sort of. Steez’s AmeriKKKan Korruption and Joey’s 1999 mixtapes brought Pro Era major recognition on the underground hip-hop circuits. Critics were amazed that Joey, a 17-year-old, made such an era-specific influenced mixtape by himself and was actually good at it.  In time, the comparisons to Nas on Illmatic started pouring in for Joey. 1999 was listed as one of the best mixtapes of 2012 and Steez was listed as the next emcee to watch for in 2013. But it was obvious Steez wasn’t getting as much shine as Joey.


I was still overjoyed to hear about such young talent blowing up as Pro Era launched their 30 city tour that summer and released their PEEP: The aPROcalypse mixtape on December 21, 2012. But when I woke up on Christmas Eve to reports on digital media saying Capital Steez had committed suicide, my heart sunk. I was baffled, “what happened?” I thought.  According to reports, he jumped from the rooftop of the Cinematic Group headquarters in Manhattan, NY, ending his own life at 19. Steez had checked into the building as an employee and made his way up to the roof. The same roof him and his Pro Era friends used to freestyle on. Before jumping to his death, he tweeted the message, “The End” on his Twitter account at 11:59 pm on December 23rd. There was little to no coverage about his death on television and though some digital media outlets did report news of his death, very few investigated it. Though I was baffled, again, it was no secret Joey was getting more promotion than Steez because of the raw militant tone of the AmeriKKKan Korruption mixtape. If you have eyes and ears you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Steez spoke about feeling slept on in past interviews. And just by examining facts from confirmed reports it’s clear the rejection from refusing to conform sent this young artist into a depressive state. Joey was an easier artist for the record label to promote. He had impeccable rhyming skills, charisma, and undeniable swag in contrast to Steez who’s scruffy appearance and strong viewpoints didn’t appeal to the apparent inclination of the mainstream blogosphere.

In a 2013 interview with Fader Magazine, former Cinematic Music Group employee Jesse Rubin said Steez could have been mainstream if he was willing to sacrifice a few things, but Steez was unwilling to do so. His death was a harsh blow for Joey who didn’t really show much interest in talking about it in interviews at first.

Though in a recent interview with Hot 97, Joey said he wasn’t sure if he still wanted to make music when Steez died.  The following death of his cousin Junior B–also a Pro Era artist–made it even harder for Joey. But he said if they were here they would’ve wanted him to continue. With that, Joey picked back up after taking some time off from making music. On the new set, it sounds like Joey is evolving on his own and picking back up from where Steez left off with zero f—s given. This new body of work sounds more like an open call for the “walking dead” blacks in America to wake up. Touching on everything from massive incarceration to rebuking Donald Trump, Joey is bringing it on this LP.  Joey is probably still not making music the mainstream wants to hear but he’s definitely prescribing the truth to a generation who really needs a heavy dose of reality.