1999, Joey Bada$$’ debut mixtape, is a tribute to an era that ended too quickly for many hip-hop fans. How this guy, who was born in ’95, came to be one of those 90s fans is beyond me. Dude was 4 when the 90s ended! So, that 1999 turned out pretty alright shows that Joey must have spent much time studying the era that he just missed growing up in. So why, despite this earnestness, can my thoughts on 1999 can best be summed up by “meh”???
It’s not just that 1999 sounds old, although that’s definitely a problem. Some of the beats are jacked from Lord Finesse, and MF DOOM albums and the new ones are so era-conscious that they might as well be jacks (Fromdatomb$ is dangerously close to Nas’ Halftime and Represent.) Meanwhile the hook to Suspect uses a line from the Nas song of the same name. But worse than sounding old, 1999‘s lyrics embody the 90’s mistakes without their triumphs. Like many 90s rappers, Joey’s rhymes here are very straightforward. They’re missing the speed, flashy wordplay, punchlines, and vivid storytelling that made the 90s great. So while they’re never bad, they’re never really interesting either.
Between sounding dated and having boring lyrics, 1999 failed to light any type fire within me. It sits somewhere between good and terrible, and is more noteworthy for showing some of Joey’s potential than really delivering on it. Here’s hoping that Summer Knights, his latest mixtape, made good on that promise.
listen to 1999 and other Pro Era mixtapes at LiveMixtapes.com