For several months, the hip-hop world has been waiting with bated breath for Joey Bada$$ to release his new full-length album A.A.B.A, a project the Pro Era leader has previously stated doesn't represent even half of his potential as an emcee.
While the Brooklyn native has provided constant updates on the status of the project on his social media channels, as well as releasing the politically-charged "Land of the Free" and the NBA-sponsored "Victory," there is still no official release date for the follow-up to his acclaimed 2015 album B4.DA.$$. Regardless, Joey hasn't shied away from press opportunities, speaking with Genius last month, first about the impact of Obama's election on the black community, and more recently, about Black History Month and the many black leaders who have inspired him and his music.
Among the countless influencers mentioned by Joey is Tupac, who he believes helped to spark his mind in an effort to help "change the world" through his music. Seemingly unprovoked, however, Joey's tone quickly turns from humble student to braggadocious veteran, plainly stating that he's a "better rapper" than Pac.
"I already know I'm a better rapper than Tupac, that's just facts. One-on-one battle, I'll flame Pac. [Laughs]"
Last summer, when Kodak Black said in an interview that he's a better rapper than both Tupac and Biggie, he was laughed at and ridiculed. Blasphemy, right? Well, what happens when an artist like Joey Bada$$, a throwback, lyrical emcee who has been labeled as a resurrector of hip-hop's golden age, says the same thing? Is his identical statement equally blasphemous?
In a brief, post-boast explanation, Joey positions himself as an emcee who is delivering vocal messages through music in a way that few others in hip-hop can claim. Whether or not fans of rap agree with Joey's explanation, part of what makes a skilled rapper a skilled rapper is the belief that they are the greatest—just ask Big Sean. This means it's completely within reason to applaud Joey's confidence and pride, while also disagreeing with his completely subjective claim.
We often criticize artists for making absurd or ignorant claims during interviews—oh hey, look, it's Kodak Black again—but I refuse to sharpen my pitchfork and take Joey to town over his remarks. While I cannot personally put Joey in the same conversation with Tupac (yet)—for starters, he needs to incorporate more charisma into his vocal approach—I do agree that, unlike many of his peers, he clearly is prioritizing message delivery over chart supremacy.
Hopefully, the next time we hear from Joey, it's through his music—which is what is supposed to do the talking.