2000 by Joey Bada$$ | Album Review

Reviewing the follow up to esteemed project “1999”

In the follow up to what some consider one of the greatest mixtape of all time in 1999, Joey Bada$$ has released its followup, ten years later. I took the time to go back and listen to that tape, since I really began listening to this artist with the release of All Amerikkkan Bada$$, to get the feel of what its spiritual successor could be.

1999, which he released at the ripe age of 16, really delved into an older form of hip-hop that was reminiscent of its roots. Being from New York, where this genre practically originated from in the seventies, the influence is clear, even to this day. That tape relied heavy on the pillars of classic hip-hop/rap with simple beats, jazz-influenced funky bass lines, and incorporating samples from pop culture. It’s actually impressive how homed in a young Joey’s game was. Even now, I find he’s a bit underrated — he isn’t hyped as much as the superstars; that has to change. It doesn’t help he was gone for nearly five years, but with 2000, it’s about time we put him up on that pedestal. It’s also worth noting that I adore All Amerikkkan Bada$$, but you can find more about that here, rather than in this review.

2000 opens with contribution from Diddy in a complementary fashion rather than contributing lyrics to “The Baddest”. This opener puts Badass in the upper-echelon where he claims he resides despite being gone for five years, putting himself in the same company as Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole. The delivery of this braggadocious track is particularly smooth as it’s complemented by samples and interpolation from “I Like It” by DeBarge, who are also given writing credits on the track.

A huge asset to this artist’s game is both flow and lyricism, each highlighted in the second track, “Make Me Feel”. The seemingly breathless delivery of the singular two and a half-ish minute verse is mind-blowing and practically inimitable. It seems Joey Bada$$ is on a mission this time around, and you can feel it in the visceral delivery at he rattles off impressive rhyme and an inane lyrical structure that somehow just keeps going — and it works. And as heard in the closing seconds of the song, the thought that other rappers could keep up with him is laughable.

Two of the four leading singles, “Zipcodes” and “Where I Belong” (shown above), came with accompanying music videos and provide a further look into the creativity behind the album vision. Both videos are gilded in an old-school type of film, the grainy film showcasing hip-hop culture in the streets of New York and Brooklyn among snippets of other swanky locations. The influence of both the style and culture of the streets of Brooklyn runs deep in Joey Bada$$ and its clear as he embraces both the highs and lows of his upbringing.

The camaraderie of the streets is juxtaposed by death and loneliness, especially in the wake of the death of Capital Steez. The album floats between these two themes, the highs of fame and money and the lows of the trenches, death, and oppression. The way Bada$$ wrestles between these thoughts is interesting in itself. Combined with the stampings of Nas and Diddy, the artist has to feel invincible as he traverses through his past and into the future.

I’ve heard some say that this album is inconsistent, but to me, this album is nothing more than a modern continuation of 1999. It still has that throwback sonic inflection, with the makings of modern rap music. It doesn’t feel as pertinent in the message it was sending in his last album, which was heavy on socioeconomic and political nuance, but the style of 2000 isn’t betrayed by cross-genre experimentation or lackadaisical radio fodder.

However, there is an exception. Unfortunately, “Welcome Back” just isn’t a great song. It leans more pop, throws of the momentum of the album, and while it can be fun with the Chris Brown feature, is just a miss overall. The sexual cliche and innuendos are overbearing and almost cringe-worthy when compared to the rest of the album. The subject of this song is better encapsulated in the very next song in “Show Me” which is more serious and intimate while still approaching the subjects of love, sex, and relationships in a listenable manner. Starting with “Welcome Back” though, we are introduced to a more intimate listen that tackles the normally stoic and less vulnerable image of street-raised rappers. JID pitches in on “Wanna Be Loved” to speak on wearing that vulnerability that is usually hidden and, as the title alludes to, wanting to be loved unconditionally.

In the penultimate track, and perhaps the most emotional in what is an ode to Capital Steez, Joey speaks on survivor’s guilt and how much he owes to Steez in both his life and personal success. He still grieves and occasionally blames himself for his death. Bada$$ credits Steez with superior rapping ability but lacking the infrastructure to confront his mental health as the destigmatization of the topic allows Joey Bada$$ to more openly grieve and speak on the topic. As the song develops, we see Joey’s “darkest cloud”, the deep regret that he was part of the reason for Steez’s death:

Yeah, we had some problems, but what brothers don’t? Sure
Then I caught a little wave and headed back to shore
And that’s when he started drowning
And he had no one around him, so, partially, I feel it’s my fault

Additionally, he pays homage to his cousin in a second verse. This song is heavy and perhaps wholly encapsulates the struggle of survivors guilt. The song ends with an anecdote from Ab-Soul and his introduction to the Pro-Era crew, namely Capital Steez and how life just unfolded after that. The album closes with the floating “Written in the Stars” speaking on the future and destiny as it unfolds before him.

This is a really strong album, and I feel like I’ve said this a lot already this year, but another worthy addition to a huge year for music. 2000 isn’t otherworldy in its approach and is about what I expected from Joey Bada$$ with his usual veracious bars and delivery complemented by good production (from McClenney and Statik Selektah among others). There is only one true miss for me as mentioned above so I feel this album has to sit comfortably in the very high sevens, up to the mid eights.

Rating: 8.3/10
Favorite Tracks: Survivor’s Guilt, Where I Belong, Written in the Stars

This review was a bit later than past releases but you know Modern Music Analysis has you covered. Be sure to follow Modern Music Analysis on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to keep up with all the latest music reviews — it’s an amazing year for music!

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Josh Herring

Josh Herring

An emerging writer working on debut novel | Top Writer in Music | Owner of Modern Music Analysis publication: https://medium.com/modern-music-analysis