Interview: Joey Bada$$ Discusses His Debut Album, ‘B4.Da.$$’


Joey Bada$$ isn’t your average shorty. The 20-year-old (Today is his birthday) flame spitta has had a laser sharp focus on lyrics and spirituality when most young men his age are still focused on Jordan’s, iPhones, and getting inside the panties of someone’s daughter. But Joey has been on some big boy shit for a minute now.

Back when he was a student at Brooklyn’s Edward Murrow High School, the innocuous rhyme spitta studied more hip-hop than classwork. In doing so, the former child-prodigy of hip-hop mastered a poignant flow and drew comparisons to Nas after the release of his 2012 mixtape 1999.

To prove that 1999 wasn’t a fluke, Bada$$ released Summer Knights, which held its own against the release dates of Jay Z, J. Cole, Kanye West and Run The Jewels. And, the rap critics have spoken–Joey Bada$$ is nice. Fast forward to Jan. 20, 2015, Bada$$’ is back to add his gritty but spiritual, and intellectual flows to the rap game with his highly-anticipated debut album B4.Da.$$, which has garnered crazy publicity from Malia Obama after a selfie of her rocking a Pro-Era T hit the ‘Net.

After making us promise not question him about his alleged assault on an Australian security guard, VIBE caught up with Bada$$ at the Jimmy Fallon Show — he’s preparing for a performance on Jimmy Fallon with BJ The Chicago Kid — for a very brief discussion about his new album, which hit iTunes today, his relationship with Statik Selektah, his fans overseas, Jay Z’s Decoded, and what he’s learned from recording B4.Da.$$.

His purpose for B4.Da.$$.
“My purpose is to inspire a generation. I want people to listen to the album and get the mindset of before the dollars. It’s you grinding your hardest before you get on. Stay in that mindset and encourage people. Have the same grind throughout your career.”

What he’s learned from recording this album.
“Listen to you own heart. Don’t worry about what other people say. At the end of the day, it’s about what you believe.”

On his favorite songs on B4.Da.$$.
“My album is better than my mixtapes. I really love so many songs on the new album, even the ones that we had to take off. It hurt me to have to take songs off this album. I have favorite songs but I don’t want my fans to be jaded by what I like. “

On a possible album and his relationship with Statik Selektah.
“I’m definitely down with doing an album with him. We got records for days. We met back in day before I put out 1999. We went over by his crib, and I’m seeing somebody do scratches for the first time, and I’m like, ‘Damn.’ That was crazy to me because I’m a lover of hip-hop. He scratched “Don’t Front” right there in front of me. It’s one of them things that’s just destiny the way we clicked.”

On his fans overseas supporting him, and their love hip-hop.
“It varies a lot. Now that the album is coming out, a lot of my overseas fans definitely hold it down. You got to understand that as time went on it [hip-hop] spread across the world. It’s just now reaching different places. They’re just now discovering it. So they’re going back and listening to everything. That’s how our youth are, we reach back to see what was done before us. “

On his Australian tour.
“My whole tour was crazy. Shit be moving so fast. If something crazy did happen, something crazier happened the next day that I forgot about it.”

What he’s currently reading.
“I just finished reading this book called Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s about self-love and personal freedom. I also just read Jay Z’s Decoded. He’s one of the people that doesn’t really speak a lot. So I really got to get into the interior of his mind. He’s a smart dude and breaks down his lyrics in the book. I’m thinking about writing a book someday. Like a self-help book or something like that.”

Plans for 2015.
“I don’t really put my plans out there like that. ‘Cause once you put them out for everyone to hear, they don’t belong to you anymore. “