Almost 10 years on from ‘1999’, the breakout mixtape that introduced the world to Joey Bada$$, the Brooklyn native has returned to our speakers for his third studio album ‘2000’. An emotive release complete with features from some of hip-hop’s iconic names including Westside Gunn, SiR and JID. ‘2000’ showcases some of Joey Bada$$’s best talents, encompassing spectacular sampling and a beating east coast sound.
‘Make Me Feel’ starts the album on powerful grounds, as Joey Bada$$ paints a clear picture of his persona over a beautifully reworked soul sample. I’ll be honest, I started tearing up at several points while listening to ‘2000’. What sets this album apart from his previous releases is the emotional richness that Joey Bada$$ presents, especially on ‘Survivors Guilt’ where he navigates a raw and stirring ode to Capital Steez, sharing his inner turmoil around the passing of his friend and the impact it has left on his life and psyche.
Lyrics are king on ‘2000’ but let’s be real, when have they ever not been on a Joey Bada$$ release? It’s most noticeable in ‘Eulogy’ and ‘Wanna Be Loved’ where his ability to build a visual narrative through rap is exercised in its full capacity. ‘2000’ falters slightly on ‘Where I Belong’, it was the only track where I felt like I would have wanted more from the rapper. I would’ve loved to see Joey Bada$$ approach the beat with a completely new method but the final result is one that wouldn’t go a miss on any of his previous releases. Not necessarily a negative reflection but it didn’t make for a distinctly ‘2000’ song.
However, he pulls it back together on ‘Brand New 911’ where he bounces bars between himself and Westside Gunn over a horn-laden beat. This high is maintained throughout the rest of the project. With ‘Head High’ as my own personal stand-out track on the album, SiR’s elevating vocals never miss and act as the ideal scaffold to hold Joey Bada$$ aloft as he reflects on the process of his career and what it means in the scope of where he came from.
‘Written In The Stars’ is the perfect way to finish out such an impactful album, with a dose of classic Joey Bada$$ on a stripped-back beat of piano, strings and cymbal-heavy drums. It leaves the album on a high note. ‘2000’ is a distinctly Joey Bada$$ project, although it doesn’t necessarily tread entirely new conceptual grounds, the spaces it does occupy are well thought out and exceptional for a reason. This album is another brilliant example of why Joey Bada$$ is such a powerhouse in hip-hop.
Words: Naima Sutton