Label: Cinematic Music Group
Released: April 7

In a year that saw him establish himself as an actor, humanitarian, and college lecturer, some may forget why people are paying attention to Joey Bada$$ in the first place. Luckily, the Pro Era leader gave us an album that forces its way into the listener’s consciousness, reminding us that he is first and foremost a musician.

On All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$, Joey is primarily concerned with, well, America. He goes as far as personifying the country as a lover on “Y U Don’t Love Me? (Miss AmeriKKKa).” And weighing heavily on his mind, understandably, is police violence against people of color.

Joey’s reactions to the state of the country range from thoughtful to sad to hopeful to defiant to resigned to, on the album’s emotional center “Babylon,” absolute rage. His entire voice changes on the track as he spits, “Fuck the system and the government.”

And he’s growing musically as well as politically. Joey experiments with different rhythms, deliveries, and rhyme schemes throughout—see, for example, him stretching a single vowel sound to the breaking point on “Ring the Alarm.”

All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ is a record that both hearkens back to a time when hip-hop was a vital tool of political engagement (the title calls to mind, surely intentionally, Ice Cube’s solo debut), and feels, tragically, all too timely.—Shawn Setaro