Bed-Stuy’s own Joey Bada$$ is already a whole lot of things for someone who’s 21. Depending on whom you ask, he’s a brilliant rapper and performer (check his powerful new single, “Devastated”), a key member of Brooklyn collective Pro Era... or, you know, a trained Dark Army super-soldier, very possibly either an AI or a figment of a vigilante hacker’s imagination, either hired or created to work as an assassin (by an elite programmer named Whiterose) to protect the unwilling participants at the core of a massive conspiracy that’s definitely got something to do with either biological weaponry, artificial intelligence, the metaverse, or something else entirely, depending on how much time you spend on Mr. Robot fan theory boards.
But I digress.
This week, Joey Bada$$ visited MTV's Wonderland to perform “Devastated.” We were lucky enough to catch up with him and discuss all of the above, plus grilled cheese.
MTV News: You're performing “Devastated” on this week's Wonderland — but you don't sound all that devastated right now. Is that because you’re out in California, or because maybe your schedule has calmed down a little bit?
Joey: No, my schedule has not calmed down, but I’m definitely not so devastated as I used to be. Definitely cooler now. A lot of blessings have fallen into my lap, and I’m very thankful to receive all of them.
Right, so — now that we’re absolutely positive that the FBI isn’t listening, are you an artificially-intelligent trained ninja?
Joey: Wow. Oh my god. No one’s ever asked me that before... that show is sick, right? Crazy season finale the other night, right?
Does that post-credits scene mean that your Mr. Robot character, Leon, will be getting a killer story arc in season 3?
Joey: We’ll just have to wait and find out. It’s looking good for Leon though; looking really good for him.
Do you keep track of what people on the Reddit fan forum are suggesting about Leon?
Joey: No, I don’t. But I know a lot of people do think that he’s Dark Army.
I’m trying to get you to tell me all your secrets.
Joey: Don’t ruin it for yourself for season 3! But yeah, there are things that I can’t share with the world, and there are also things that they keep secret even from me.
Did you grow up watching action movies? You’re pretty natural with the ninja moves, I’m not gonna lie.
Joey: I’ve had some very, very, very, very minuscule training in that field.
Some people have to train to become ninjas, but other people, god just makes them ninjas, is what I think what we’re saying.
Joey: I believe I am of the natural.
People still aren’t sure if Leon is even a real person!
Joey: A lot of people keep asking that! I’ll say this: Leon is as real as it gets.
Other than the next season of Mr. Robot, do you have many projects planned for the year to come?
Joey: Well, definitely more movie roles, definitely more music. I’m gonna put out a new project, a new offering to the world very soon.
I noticed you didn’t say a new record just now. Is it a new band with other people, or just a new album?
Joey: Oh, you just gave me a new idea. Maybe I will release it under a mysterious name. Maybe Leon might start making music... there are still some things that I’d like to know about Leon before I take it to the studio. I need to know a little bit more about him. He’s a little too mysterious for me.
Maybe Leon is the Wu Tang secret, have you considered that?
Joey: Maybe he got trained in the 36 Chambers.
[Editor's note: We will never reveal the Wu-Tang secret.]
You said you’re looking for movie roles. Do you have film work coming out in addition to your televised work on Mr. Robot?
Joey: I landed a role in the upcoming Obama film called Barry as one of his best friends in college, but they were shooting the same week as Coachella, so I couldn’t do it. I had to pass it up.
So Coachella took priority. Do you think that’s it’s going to be music over film for a while?
Joey: I mean, for now it definitely is. It’s my number one calling right now, so I’m gonna have to play to that, you know? It is my main source of income.
Everyone has a job, whether you’re a ninja assassin or a really cool rapper from Brooklyn. What role would you have to be offered to turn down Coachella?
Joey: If it was like some Independence Day shit, or some new-aged, Che Guevara revolutionary-type shit: those type of roles for sure.
[A voice in the background says “It’s always nice to see you!”]
Where are you and what are you doing?
Joey: I come to this restaurant called Greenspan Grilled Cheese, and oh my god, the sandwiches here are so fly, you wouldn’t even believe it.
If there was going to be a Joey Bada$$ grilled cheese, what would be on it?
Joey: It would be tuna, toasted bread, of course some nice cheese, tomato sauce and grapes, because that’s how they make theirs.
When are we going to see you in Brooklyn next?
Joey: I’m going to be back in Brooklyn as soon as my tour is over. No Brooklyn shows coming up, but I’m sure we’ll book one very soon. I’m trying to enjoy my time in L.A. right now.
What is it about L.A. that keeps you going back?
Joey: There is this one venue in Santa Ana, which is about an hour and a half drive from L.A., called The Observatory. I think it’s like the best venue in the United States, actually, for rap. The sound is amazing in there, the venue space is dope. Also, the fans are like the biggest fans in the world.
Speaking of venues, if you had a house of your own like the MTV Wonderland house, who would you book — anyone, living or dead, throughout history — for your own Wonderland show?
Joey: I would book Daft Punk, Biggie, Tupac, Prince, Michael Jackson, Aaliyah, and Beyoncé.
And cater it with grilled cheese, right?
Joey: And cater it with grilled cheese, and season 3 of Mr. Robot in all the dressing rooms.