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The 50 Best Albums of 2012

38. Joey Bada$$, 1999

Label: N/A
Released: June 12

High school age Brooklyn MC Joey Bada$$ gained notoriety early this year after releasing his "Survival Tactics" video with fellow Pro.Era crew member Capital STEEZ. It showed that he had the potential to be one of the next great lyricists out of New York. With his 1999 mixtape, he proved that his potential is real, not hype.

His single "Waves" features Joey spitting bars reminiscent of a young Nas, with a smooth street delivery laced with slick vernacular. The rest of the tape showcases this same lyrical prowess over sample-driven, boom bap beats. "FromdaTomb" might as well have been released in 1994. Same with "Hard Knock."

Still, the songs show a glimpse of the future. His track selection is smart and unique, his rhymes are on-point, and his youthful spirit shines through his old soul with every bar. For hip-hop purists searching for the next wave, Joey Bada$$ and his 1999 mixtape was exactly what they were looking for, and more. -DI

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