Joey Bada$$ has tried on plenty of hats in his short career: teenage hip-hop prodigy, golden age revivalist, Pro Era crew founder, Mr Robot actor, wearer of really good clothes. He added ‘political rapper’ to that stacked CV this year, with the release of his state-of-the-nation sophomore set All-Amerikkkan Bada$$. Beats 1 DJ Julie Adenuga sat down with the 22-year-old Brooklyn MC for ASOS Magazine.
STYLE AND CULTURE
JOEY BADA$$’ STYLE FILE
By Style Feed Staff, 8 September 2017
When you’re making something like All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, do you have a checklist of everything that you want to talk about?
I don’t have a checklist but I made a mind map and put everything that I thought it should be about in a little web. I would go back every now and again like, ‘What didn’t I talk about? Touched on that, touched on that. Oh my god, tuition! [Claps hands authoritatively.] Book the studio!’
Did the final album match those initial ideas?For sure. The song that started the journey of the album was Babylon. I made that song after the death of Freddie Gray [who died in 2015 while under arrest in Baltimore]. I was just so charged by what was happening in my country, almost on a daily basis. Cops killing black men every day and it’s still going on now. It was really close to home. This is the only album I’ve ever made that wasn’t about me. It’s about what’s going on around me, it’s about us, what we are going through as people, as a country, as the world, ultimately as the human race.
Tell us about your proudest moments.
Receiving my first gold plaque, getting my new apartment and then buying a home for my mom. From the moment I started making music, that was my mission. My mom was a single parent working two jobs and I couldn’t bear to see her put that much stress on herself for me. I wanted to pay her back.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I have my own label. I have artists signed to my label who I basically manage. It’s something that takes a lot of time, energy and focus, but honestly it’s my favourite hat to wear. Another thing is design. I have my own brand – the Pro Era brand – and I love designing for it. I’m not trying to make it a ‘fashion brand,’ I want it to be the number one streetwear brand. There are a lot of avenues that run through Joey Bada$$. I’m like that street in France, you know, the Champs-Élysées? And all of those avenues run through it. That’s me!
What’s your favourite piece of clothing of all time?
I’m a jean collector. There was a phase where I only wanted to perform in black pants, so that’s when I bought 30 black jeans. Now I’m going through this shorts phase, so I bought 30 shorts. Every year my style evolves in some way. My mind is open but I’m never going to put myself in something that’s not me, where I don’t feel like I can be myself.
Who do you most admire?
Malcolm. Marcus Garvey. JAY-Z. Puff. Pac. There’s one Pac quote: ‘I'm not saying I'm going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will.’ I feel like me, Kendrick [Lamar] and a lot of people in the world are fruits of that statement. He sparked us. And we will continue the spark for future generations, based on what we received from him. It’s the never-ending cycle. That’s how we make the world better, with time.
What are your hopes for the United States of America?
One, get that man out of the damn office. Two, I hope that we become a better place, a fairer place for everybody. I hope we can develop a more equal moral state. More than anything, I just want it to be fair. For everyone, for every race, every colour, every gender, every human.