In an interview on the Breakfast Club, rapper and actor Joey Badass opened up about why he pursued therapy, how the COVID-19 pandemic helped him improve himself, and opting not to sign with Jay-Z when he was younger.

Joey’s recently released album 2000 sees the rapper reference Hov with the “Make Me Feel” bars, “I came up from the underground and had to keep climbin’/I peep the game like Jay, that’s why he didn’t sign us.”

“Jay is definitely…Jay is an idol of mine,” he told the radio hosts at the 12-minute point above when asked about the lyrics. He touched on a part in Jay-Z’s 2010 Decoded book where the icon recalled meeting Russell Simmons for the first time, and how Joey recognized he wanted to be one of these record executives rather than signing to one.

“That was kind of the inspiration behind that line, it’s like, you know, shit didn’t work out,” Badass said. In 2012, fresh off the release of his breakthrough mixtape 1999, Joey met with Jay at the Roc Nation office. While he said the meeting went well, he doesn’t know why he wasn’t offered a record contract by Hov and has considered asking him about it some day.

“I always see him now and I be wanting to have that conversation, but the time...I feel like the time never permits like, where we at,” he said. “I was so young at the time and to me there was no reason not to sign to Jay-Z. But there was other factors involved and shit like that, so I’m not really sure what exactly happened like if the communications channels was like sabotaged or something like that. I don’t know.” 

As for working on his mental health, Joey shared at the 29:30 point up top (and excerpted via IG below), “I do go to therapy, I started going to therapy back in 2020. As unfortunate as that pandemic was for a lot of people, [and] I definitely don’t want to be insensitive when I say this, but for me, I needed that shit. I didn’t know stillness in my adult life. Like, I hit the ground running at 17 years old, I was still a kid. Still in high school and was forced [into] accelerated growth you know? Just pushed out there, just had to keep it going.” 

“I didn’t realize for about five or six years I didn’t stop,” the 27-year-old continued. “I hadn’t stopped, I hadn’t gotten any type of still time. I hadn’t had real time to connect with my family. Even more importantly, myself. When I finally got that space in that time, it was like I just went real deep inside and I realized things that I needed.”

He said doing the work made him understand that he needs to be “held accountable” for his “shortcomings,” because he’s a “self-improvement junkie” by his own admission. “I’m committed and devoted to being a better version of myself.”

“Therapy was definitely an outlet that I saw to bring me closer to a higher self-awareness and just state of being,” Joey said. “I started to resonate with the idea that Black people…therapy being so taboo to us.” He said at some point, someone in his circle introduced him to the concept of emotional intelligence, which “kind of blew my mind.”

“If you tell a Black man ‘you’re being emotional,’ that’s like offensive,” he said. “But people don’t realize that, ‘Yo if you’re angry, if we’re having a conversation you just screaming because you’re mad…you’re in your emotions! People get emotionally hijacked everyday. Like, blinded by emotion, blinded by rage. So I just kind of started on that path for understanding myself more, because I grew up [with] anger issues and stuff like that. It was hard for me to identify a lot of things that I was feeling.”