Much in the way "Started From the Bottom" feels like a partial troll of listeners aggy that Drake was already a Canadian child star when he decided to pursue a rap career, Joey Bada$$'s "95 Til Infinity" struck many older heads as an attempt to mess with those heads, due in part to its obvious reference to the Souls of Mischief's classic "93 'Til Infinity." 

Weirdly, Joey's stuff seems even more retro than it did on some of his earlier songs, which could have slotted in easily on a Curren$y Jets CD. It is almost as if he's doubling down on the signifiers of East Coast tradition. Where rappers in other regions seem interested in blearily breaking down rap to its core ideas, Joey seems intent on building everything up—intensifying density, packing bars together, as a kind of twisted tribute to New York's forgotten history. And no, this stuff isn't really 'forgotten' to rap nerds, but from the perspective of most relevant rappers, it is; rap has always rewarded the rapper who could take the shortest path between ideas. From Too $hort to Mobb Deep to Pimp C, directness was rewarded.

When Joey says "females with no identity signs," it makes you wonder why he bothered saying "signs." But maybe that's the point; perhaps the defiant intensification of New York's New York-ness will be what pays creative dividends.

Summer Knights, the rapper's new tape, drops Monday. The song is produce by Lee Bannon.


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