From COVID-19 to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests to all of the chaos surrounding celebrities and the White House and everything else, it’s pretty safe to say that 2020 has not been one of the best or most positive years as of late. One thing that has helped me and so many people get through this crazy year is all of the great music that has come out. Hip Hop, in particular, has produced a ton of great albums and singles this year that have made everything seem less gloomy; because of artists like Lil Baby and Lil Uzi Vert and Mac Miller and Pop Smoke and Run the Jewels(just to name a few), 2020 has blessed Hip Hop fans so much. One artist that has not come out with any music in three years, and who has a sound and style that matches up with the unrest of 2020 super well, is Joey Bada$$. Joey has always seemed to thrive off of the craziness and the unfair nature of this world when making his music. His first two albums, 1999 and All Amerikkkan Bada$$, were both very highly critically acclaimed and are both very politically charged and motivated. Joey has a way with his words that really punches the listener in his chest and makes them hear what he is saying; whether or not you agree with him, it would be pretty tough to argue that Joey Bada$$ does not get his points across very well. Even though the Hip Hop world has vastly changed during the time that Joey Bada$$ has been away from it, I think that he will pick up right where he left off and top the charts when he releases his full-length album later this year. From what I understand, this newest project, The Light Pack, is a three-part single pack meant to remind us of how good Joey Bada$$ is and get us ready for his upcoming album. It is not exactly an EP, and as is more of a collection of songs that kind of add up to one single. I will sort of be reviewing it like an EP, though, as it is substantial enough to assess the songs individually and within the group. With that being said, here is how I feel about Joey Bada$$’s The Light Pack. Please let me know in the comments below if you like this piece of music, and let me know if you are as excited about Joey’s upcoming album as I am.
The first track from this EP, ‘The Light’ gets right to the point, and immediately shows how Joey feels about his position in the rap game and how he compares to the other biggest artists that make up his genre right now. As with a lot of Joey’s best songs, the instrumental for this track is pretty lowkey, as it forces the listener to focus on the lyrics and the way that he is delivering them. The melody of this track has an old school New York Hip Hop feeling to it; accompanied by a low key old school beat, the melody almost gives off sinister feelings. It sounds like something you would hear when they introduce a villain in a dramatic movie. On ‘The Light,’ Joey acknowledges how long he has been gone and that he is ready to come back and take his rightful place at the top of the game again. He admits that he lost a bit of motivation for a while after reaching the pinnacle of the game at such a young age, but now he is hungry again and sick of all the other people that are considered to be the best rappers right now. In the first verse, Joey Bada$$ states some of his intentions now that he is back: Now, world domination by determination. This is mumble rap extermination. This is Godly interpolation… I love how much confidence Joey Bada$$ oozes on this track. On ‘The Light,’ Joey states that he is a “Top Five” rapper, that he is on the same level as Satan, and that he is a combination of Muhammad Ali and Mahatma Gandhi. Overall, this is such a great re-introduction to who Joey Bada$$ is as a rapper. Following this, we get ‘No Explanation,’ which features Pusha T. A collaboration from these two is not something that has ever crossed my mind as something that can happen, and I am so happy that it is here. Pusha T also has an excellent way of getting the listener to focus on the words he is saying and he is one the best and most lyrical true gangsta rappers in the game, and even though they walk in such different circles his flow and style match up with Joey Bada$$’s super well. This song has another very sinister and very lowkey old school kind of melody; in a way, it almost seems like an extension of the song that precedes it because honestly so similar. The melody of ‘No Explanation’ is even darker and colder than ‘The Light,’ and it matches the energy of the two rappers on this track so well. On ‘No Explanation,’ Joey Bada$$ and Pusha T assert their dominance as driving forces and killers in the rap game; both rappers on this track assert in a multitude of ways why they are in the position they are in, and how they will exterminate any other rapper who gets in the way. If you are a fan of frigid and super tough lyrical rap music, ‘No Explanation’ is a track you should download as soon as possible. The Light Pack rounds out with a track that has a lot more of a chill and easy-going feeling than the feelings of the songs that precede it. ‘Shine’ is the song that sounds the most like an actual single out of the three tracks on this release; it samples Roy Ayers’ song ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine,’ which gives in a very sweet and warm Jazz-Funk sound that would be perfect to listen to while smoking a blunt on a hot summer day. On ‘Shine,’ Joey talks about all of the struggles he has gone through in his life to make it to this point, and how he knows he can not let up or let his star fade because he feels like he can be a voice for the voiceless. Joey definitely recognizes the beauty within his own struggle, and he knows that he has to keep on grinding to help his family and to teach the youth. This line about Joey wanting to help out the area he grew up in is a good idea as to what Joey is talking about on this song: Went from buildin’ with blocks to buildin’ the block. Now I’m talkin’ with my pops about some buildings to cop… Joey Bada$$ recognizes that he has an opportunity to do a lot of good for the hood that he is from and for black youth in America from hoods all over the country, and he does not intend to let this opportunity slip away. ‘Shine’ is a great example of how driven and generous Joey Bada$$ is as a person; it shows that he knows and embraces the amount of pressure and responsibility somebody in his position can and should have.
After being gone for a whole three years(which is like an eternity in the rap game), Joey Bada$$’s latest project is truly a return to form. It is almost as if he never left, which is great because the world of Hip Hop and the world in general needs his contributions more than ever at this point. ‘The Light Pack’ provides multiple phenomenal examples of why Joey Bada$$ is considered a premier young rapper in the game; it highlights his sophisticated and poignant lyricism as well as his unique ability to deliver these lyrics in a way that punches the listener right in the chest. On ‘The Light Pack,’ Joey Bada$$ asserts that even though he has not really been apart of the Hip Hop game for a while, he is still at the top of the hill, and he is coming in hard to take his thrown back. In the insane times we are living in, we can really use a strong voice like Joey’s to lead the youth. ‘The Light Pack’ is a prime example of why Joey Bada$$ is so good, and it has me very excited to hear his full-length album when it comes out later this year.