On March 9, days before most people went into self-quarantine to slow the spread of COVID-19 in New York City, Joey Badass joined guests at the McIntosh Townhouse for a private event in celebration of Paco Rabanne’s new fragrance. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic stalled the launch, but Paco Rabanne unveiled 1 Million Parfum on Tuesday. The campaign is just the latest in Badass’ growing modeling portfolio (he previously modeled for Calvin Klein in 2016), but the rapper says Paco Rabanne’s campaign was on-brand and fit with his career plans. 

Joey admits he’s been somewhat sidetracked from music by other life experiences lately, but he knows his fans are anticipating a new album from him. It’s been three years since he dropped his sophomore album, All-Amerikkkan Badass, but he says he needed time to live a little before dropping the next project. 

“It’s not fast food,” he explains. “It's not something that keeps coming, even though I'd like it to be like that, and my fans would like it to be like that. But I just need time. I'm talking about my life, talking about my experiences. That doesn't always happen in six months. Sometimes, not much happens in six months that's super significant to express through art. Or sometimes you need another six months to even process what you just went through.”

When we spoke on March 9, he confirmed his next studio album would drop in the next six months and the music will reflect where he’s at in his life right now. 

“It will speak towards the growth as both an artist and as a man. I’m just trying to find new ways to open up and to tell my story—more parts of it that haven't been told,” he says. “Also, I’m having fun this time around. I’m trying to have more fun than I've ever had, because it's a very fun time for me right now. A lot of exciting things are happening.” 

One thing we know for sure, is that the album won’t be overstuffed with too many songs. “I hate when motherfuckers put out an album longer than 14 songs,” Joey says. “Nobody wants to fucking listen to that. Nobody's getting through that in a day. Granted kids are a big part of this shit, but bro, keep that shit. I don't care if it was Michael Jackson, I am not listening to 25 songs. Less is more in my opinion.”

Complex spoke with Joey Badass about Paco Rabanne, his forthcoming studio album, and being an underrated artist. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below. 

Why did you want to get involved with Paco Rabanne?
I definitely resonated with the opportunity. And to say the least, it came out great. Everybody on the team is so cool to work with. I learned a lot from working with them. So it was a win-win.

Why do you feel this is on-brand for you? 
I think it’s very on-brand because my whole trajectory has always been about elevation and constantly moving up and moving forward. So, this is just another mark in that journey. 

What’s one word to describe this campaign?
Chic.

It’s been three years since your last album. What’s the method behind waiting a long time between releases? 
It’s different things. One, I’m still young. Two, I’ve always been that type of artist who delivers a quality body of work. It’s not fast food. It’s not something that keeps coming, even though I’d like it to be like that, and my fans would like it to be like that. But I just need time. I’m talking about my life, talking about my experiences. That doesn’t always happen in six months. Sometimes not much happens in six months that’s super significant to express through art. Or sometimes you need another six months to even process what you just went through. That’s more what it’s like for me. It’s just about taking my time to produce the best body of work. I won’t settle for anything less than a classic. I won’t settle for anything less than my best.

“I’m having fun this time around. I’m definitely trying to have more fun than I've ever had.”

Your fans are always itching for new music in between those periods. How do you manage that? 
I got to do a lot of check-ins with these niggas because they be talking crazy. It’s a funny game. Sometimes you got to throw them a bone if you're not ready yet. You gotta put up a smoke screen and then exit out through the back door. It gets tricky, but different machines, different strategies, different figurations. I'm still learning. 

Can you give an update on your next project? 
We’re trying to come soon. It’s almost ready. On Instagram, my fans were pressing me and I told them, “Listen, it’s not going to be a longer wait than six months.” That’s the best I can say. We’re really right there.

What will this new chapter of music say about you?
It will speak towards the growth as both an artist and as a man. I'm just trying to find new ways to open up and to tell my story. More parts of it that haven't been told. Also, I’m having fun this time around. I’m definitely trying to have more fun than I've ever had, because it's a very fun time for me right now. A lot of exciting things are happening. 

“You come to my restaurant, motherf*cker, it’s like 10 options. I hate when motherf*ckers put out an album longer than 14 songs. Nobody wants to f*cking listen to that.”

Are you trying anything new on this next project? 
I’d definitely say so. The thing with this project is everyone’s going to be satisfied, and not in a way where it’s too many things on the menu. I’m definitely not that type. You come to my restaurant, motherfucker, it’s like 10 options. I hate when motherfuckers put out an album longer than 14 songs. Nobody wants to fucking listen to that. Nobody’s getting through that in a day. Granted kids are a big part of this shit, but bro, keep that shit. I don’t care if it was Michael Jackson, I am not listening to 25 songs. Less is more in my opinion. 

People use the word “underrated” a lot when describing you. What's your take on being “underrated?”
I think it’s a great thing. I’d rather be underrated than overrated, because I always have this place to get to. You know what it is? It’s social currency, and social currency is one of the main aspects of virality or marketing agenda. People want to feel as if they’re empowering you with something. So the fact that you could still put people on to Joey Badass makes it exciting. If you can’t put nobody onto something, there’s no social value. You don’t feel relief or joy by sharing this with somebody else. So I think being underrated is good.

You shared a freestyle in the wake of Pop Smoke’s death. Can you talk about why you wanted to make that?
Every time we lose somebody in this hip-hop game, in this culture, I feel like it affects all of us, especially as a rapper. It resonates deeply, because it's like, “Yo, that could’ve been me.” That could’ve been my man. That could’ve been this person. I didn’t know him personally, so I didn’t feel like it was much I could say to speak on it, aside from just showing my respects and my condolences. That was pretty much my outlet. I felt the same way when Nipsey passed. I felt the same way when X passed, felt the same way when Juice passed. Even back to my man eight years ago. So it’s just my expression of that pain and trying to talk to the world real quick about how I feel about what's going on.

What’s the most important thing you want people to know about you at this moment and this part of your life? 
I’ve been trying to ask myself that lately. I literally got it written down in my phone, and I haven’t answered it yet. My gut feeling is I want them to know that I’m human and that I’m growing and evolving every day. But I feel like there’s a deeper answer. I’m just a little bit emotionally blocked right now. I’m going to have to get back to you. 

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