Fire Starter: Joey BadA$$
As a youngster, Brooklyn MC Joey BadA$$ was baffled by Nas' 1994 classic Illmatic. The iconic album cover featured a childhood photo of the then 20-year-old God's Son. "I seen him as a kid and I thought he was a kid rapping, I was just confused," Joey told Mixtape Daily. After all, how can a kid that young deliver such impactful and insightful records like "Life's a Bitch" and "The World Is Yours"?
Somewhere along the way, Joey's initial confusion must have led to some sort of inspiration, because at 17 years old, he has already delivered a single that seems to surpass the subject matter of other spitters in his age bracket. The militant-minded "Survival Tactics," borrows its instrumental from the 1998 Styles of Beyond song of the same name. Joey impressively starts out spitting, "N---as don't want war, I'ma Martian with an army of Spartans/ Sparring with a knife in a missile fight."
The track's gritty video shows Joey and his partner-in-rhyme Capital STEEZ marching from their grimey Brooklyn hood to Wall Street while wearing animal masks and army jackets. On March 21, MTV News featured Joey on the Get in the Game segment of "RapFix Live." After previewing a portion of the "Survival Tactics" video, members of Odd Future agreed that Joey "can rap," even if a disruptive Tyler, the Creator downplayed the quality of the visuals. Expecting some pushback from the renegade group, Joey came out of the gate hurling insults at OF producer Left Brain, and Left Brain fired back. The incident was billed as beef on media websites and message boards, but Joey writes it off merely as playful banter. "I felt like that was set up," Joey told MTV News. "I felt like y'all tried to set us up for beef."
Still, it has been all love for Joey, who is currently in his junior year at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn. Joey BadA$$ says that he's been rapping since the womb and credits his parents' affinity for hip-hop with shaping his musical tastes. "I was 2 years old and I knew the whole Biggie 'Hypnotize' song," he boasted.
Influenced by the likes of the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac, Joey began to take rapping seriously as he got older. Now he is the stand-out among his Progressive Era crew, a collective of 18 rappers, producers, graphic designers and studio engineers. The young man's buzz even caught the attention of Mac Miller, who featured Joey on "America," a track off of his recently released Macadelic mixtape.
All this and Joey hasn't even dropped his first mixtape, though he estimates that 1999 will come shortly. The recent attention has him ready to step up. "Now I feel like I gotta give them something greater," he said. "I'm just stressing myself out trying to do something amazing."