B4.Da.$$: How Joey Bada$$ became one of my favourite rap cats in the game [Interview]
Edmonton, AB – I recently reunited with Joey Bada$$. And he is now one of my favourite rappers in the game. But let me back-track for a minute, here, and fill you in on the backstory. The first time I interviewed Joey Bada$$ was back in September 2013. He came to Calgary during his North American Beast Coast Tour to play two back-to-back shows in the city.
I’d heard stories about Joey and the Pro Era posse rolling around the city in a big perv van; smoking herb and stuff. I have to real, here. I had legitimate fears regarding the longevity of Joey’s career. My partner-in-crime, Sarosh, tag-teamed the interview with me at Le Rock on 17th Avenue. We were still getting a handle on our interview M.O. We set up our cameras. Then we set up the chairs – and for some reason we made Joey sit between us on a really tall stool. Which – in hindsight – was a horrible idea because he’s like 5,489,572 feet taller than us. It looked kind of disproportionate (Don’t believe me? Check it over here).
“When I first left highschool when I started doing my music thing, life started taking a faster pace for me. This album definitely gave me a chance to take it all in.” – Joey Bada$$
The cameras started rolling. Joey lit a blunt. He proceeded to smoke said blunt throughout the entire duration of the interview. I kind of did a mental eyeroll at the time; like, ‘I get it. You’re Joey f**king Bada$$. You’re a bada$$. Cool, bro. Can you wait until – maybe – we’re done the interview before you choke down a joint? Because my camera footage is going to look distorted with all this smoke floating around and stuff.’ Anyways. I was worried about Joey. He was a young cat at the time – only 18 years old. And people were already hailing him as the next Biggie Smalls. That’s mad pressure.
I photographed Joey’s second show of the evening. His team looked exhausted. Kirk Knight sat on the stage stairs between sets. And Statik Selektah motioned for him to get up several times. Let me re-iterate this – I was worried about the general well-bring of the Pro Era crew. I figured they’d ride out the rest of the Beast Coast Tour, bad ish would happen, Joey would get an ego, and that would be the end of it all.
I was wrong, though.
Only a few months later, I reunited withThe Pro Era squad. This time it was in Edmonton at the Iron Mic Music Festival (peep my show review over here). Western Canada’s biggest indoor hip-hop music festival premiered in April 2014 at the Expo Centre with headliners MGK, Ghostface Killah, Action Bronson, Smoke DZA, and – you guessed it – Joey Bada$$. So of course I decided to lurk on over and say hello. I didn’t really think the Pro Era fam remember me.
I was wrong, though.
Joey gave me a big hug. He asked me about Sarosh: “How’s your friend that was with you last time?” Cue: shit-eating Sarah Jay grin of supreme journalistic validation. I felt so many feelings. Joey had become a complete gentleman; Bada$$ all grown up. Don’t get me wrong – Joey is a hard interview. He hates getting asked about things he’s said in other interviews. I should have remembered this. I made the mistake of asking him about a recent comment he’d made in a Topman interview about his perceived lack of respect within the rap game. Immediately, he called me out on it. He asked me to directly quote him, and proceeded to put me in my place. “Certain days I feel different,” he said. You can’t argue with that. ‘Na mean? If you’re getting microphones shoved in your face on the daily, you’re bound to say a few things that you’ll later change your mind on. Not that I’m one to talk. I mean – I spend my days shoving microphones in cats’ faces, writing up interviews, and convincing the world that the word is bond.
Anyways, I got at Joey right as he was gearing up to start campaigning for his forthcoming B4.Da.$$; his debut album. It’s due out in fall 2014. And it’s going to be massive. I teasingly told Joey that he’d gotten cooler since the last time I saw him. Then we sat down for our interview. This time I wasn’t setting up my own cameras, though. I had the Randompath Media team filming me . “I see you stepped your sh*t up. You’re way cooler than last time I seen you,” Joey said.
“Started from the bottom…” I replied.
Joey looked at me.
“…now we here.”
Joey Bada$$: Q&A
Interview conducted by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
Interview filmed and recorded by Randompath Media for Iron Mic Music Festival
HipHopCanada: My name is Sarah Sussman. I’m sitting here today with Joey Bada$$ for HipHopCanada. Welcome to Edmonton. How’s it going?
Joey Bada$$: Pretty well, pretty well. You know – show was amazing. Smashing.
HipHopCanada: So it’s been – what – six [or] seven months since we last caught up…
Joey Bada$$: About that…No. It’s like a year, now. It was Beast Coast Tour, right? It was a year [ago] now.
HipHopCanada: It’s been a while. You’re older now. You’re grown up. So I thought we’d catch up on everything Bada$$ that’s gone down since I last saw you. So I wanted to talk about your Lil B diss. It kind of got pushed under the rug…
Joey Bada$$: …That was like a year ago.
HipHopCanada: That was the moment I knew you’d grown up. Because at the end of it – in the outro – you shouted him out. That was a very mature move [for] you.
Joey Bada$$: Did I? Word. That’s what’s up.
HipHopCanada: So your debut project is dropping soon. I wanted to know – it’s stylized B4.da.$$…
Joey Bada$$: Before the money. Bada$$ [and] before the money.
Sarah Sussman: Rap cats always spelling things weirdly.
Joey Bada$$: It plays into my artistic mind – you know, just being a rapper I tend to play with words a lot. If you look at it, it’s a visible double entendre: it also says “Bada$$.” And it says “Before the money.” Jus’ some rapper shit.
HipHopCanada: You recently claimed you have not been getting enough respect…
Joey Bada$$: When did I say this?
HipHopCanada: With Topman.
Joey Bada$$: You know, the thing is – certain days I feel different. Word up. You feel me? They caught that film on that day. This day, it could be something different. You know? I’m getting a lot of respect. I mean, I feel like there’s always room for improvement. I’m never…comfortable; I’m never just mackin’ [and] sittin’ back [and] kickin’ it. I’m always trying to earn more.
HipHopCanada: So what will this debut album mean for Joey Bada$$?
Joey Bada$$: It’s weird because… [pauses] Well, not weird. It’s actually a good thing; a very great thing [because] what it feels like is my second chance to make my first impression. When I first came out with my first mixtape it was like, “Awe. Yo. This is Joey Bada$$. This is who he is.” Now it’s my first album. So I have the chance to win people over all over again.
HipHopCanada: What was the process like; in terms of making an album, as opposed to making the mixtapes?
Joey Bada$$: The album is way more introspective. The mixtape was more piece-by-piece and …I want to say free-ball. It’s way more free. But the album is like – you know – you want to have a concept. You want to have your theme. That’s your money, now. You feel me? You want to have your storyline. There’s definitely more structure. Because of that, you put more time into it; more work, and more thought.
HipHopCanada: So walk me through the storyline.
Joey Bada$$: Um. I can’t. [laughs] Nah. But good try, though. Good try, though. [laughs]
HipHopCanada: But talking about introspection, here – do you feel you got in touch with some more emotions?
Joey Bada$$: Definitely, definitely. I recovered a lot of myself in the process of making this album. When I first left highschool when I started doing my music thing, life started taking a faster pace for me. This album definitely gave me a chance to take it all in. I’ve matured, and everything. I’m in the middle. I’m in the now, as opposed to being way in the future.
HipHopCanada: Do you feel like you’re an adult, now?
Joey Bada$$: I’m definitely an adult. You feel me? I’m a grown man.
HipHopCanada: You’re legal, here.
Joey Bada$$: I’m out here, in Canada. Exactly. I’m drinkin’ champagne, and shit.
HipHopCanada: [laughs] So I also wanted to ask you about the J. Dilla tribute track you did. Because that was beautiful. Why the tribute?
Joey Bada$$: [J Dilla is] my favourite producer of all-time. It was a no-brainer, It was like, ‘Yo. J. Dilla…’ I was like, ‘Yes.’ As soon as I heard “J. Dilla,” [I said] yes. It doesn’t matter what comes after that. Yes. It was like, “We gon’ give you an unreleased J. Dilla beat and do your thing.”
HipHopCanada: That’s an opportunity of a lifetime.
Joey Bada$$: Of a lifetime! And what was even greater is that they blessed me with another one for my album. So expect an unreleased J. Dilla beat on my album.
HipHopCanada: You’re so lucky. That’s like Christmas, man.
Joey Bada$$: That’s like some Golden Child shit. [Editor’s side note: Bad IMDB rating. Excellent movie.] I’m so blessed. I wake up every day and thank the Lord.
HipHopCanada: I also wanted to ask you about your Valentines Day track that you dropped – “Panty Raid Pt. II.” Is Jojo your nickname?
Joey Bada$$: Girls like to call me Jojo. They call me Papi. They call me a lot of things. It comes from the feeling – the emotion. I like Jojo. I like Joseph. [laughs]
HipHopCanada: That’s cute stuff. So before we wrap up, I just wanted to get your thoughts on Iron Mic: what it’s like to be here today and what it’s like to be part of the first installation of Western Canada’s biggest indoor hip-hop music festival?
Joey Bada$$: Can you say that one more time? That was – like – really long. You had me really in my thoughts.
HipHopCanada: I know. We’re getting deep, here. What [is it] like to be here, today?
Joey Bada$$: Oh word. Actually, when I heard about the event I just pictured this one mic coming down from the ceiling. And all of these hip-hop heavyweights just coming and just putting their rap styles together and just smashing the show. I’m definitely honoured. Anything that involves the whole essence and feeling of true hip-hop and rap; that’s me – right there. You feel me? I’m there. I’m definitely honoured to be here.
About Iron Mic Music Festival
Iron Mic is the first of its kind for Western Canada – it’s an indoor multi-headliner hip-hop festival offered to all ages. The festival is three parts in nature: it features headlining performances from internationally recognized artists. It provides an opportunity for local artists to gain some exposure. And it gives back to the community through charitable efforts. Iron Mic Music Festival was made possible through Pearl Entertainment’s partnerships with Nightshift, Mez Muzik, Dubsac, Jakmove, Diamond Kings Entertainemnt, IPartySask, and HipHopCanada.
Tags: Action Bronson, D-Block, EST 19XX, Ghostface Killah, Iron Mic Music Festival, Joey Bada$$, Kirk Knight, Machine Gun Kelly, MGK, Noisey, Pearl Entertainment, Pro Era, Randompath Media, Sheek Louch, Smoke DZA, Statik Selektah, The Lox, Vice, Wu Block, Wu-Tang Clan