Joey Bada$$ Talks His Musical Call to Action: 'Amerikkkan Bada$$'
If you only get one takeaway from the new Amerikkkan Bada$$ album, Joey Bada$$ wants it to be this: “This is my call to action.” Despite being relatively soft spoken, he’s none the less proving to be the voice of a powerful and resonating message, one that literally everyone can connect with. So what, exactly, are we being called to? In the words of the badass himself, he’s speaking “to anyone, to anything, that they may feel passionate about.” It’s a broad vision, and one that’s helping this modern day Renaissance man (he also plays a role in the show Mr. Robot) to continue to spread his influence over the music industry, and beyond. We sat down with Bada$$ to talk more about his art, his album, and what Amerikkan Bada$$ means for the rest of humanity; peek the full interview below.
Tell us a little bit about the new album, the development that it’s had, and what people are going to take away from it.
Um, you know, the new album is amazing if I may say. What it’s meant to be is a call for action, you know. This is the first album, body of work, that I made that it’s not solely about me, it’s not about me at all, it’s about us as a whole. Everything that’s going on that we’re currently experiencing, and it’s about the way that some of us may take that in if that makes sense. But um, yeah, this new album definitely means the world to me because I made it for the world. It’s the first time I made a body of work just for the greater good of humanity.
Obviously, you misspelled “American” on it, with three K’s; how is that part of the call to action?
Me putting the three K’s in America is a symbol of this side of the country that I’m talking to, so a lot of people may feel like that side doesn’t exist anymore, but it’s pretty alive and well, you know? The way I broke it down from pretty much my own perspective and some others that are really close to me, that’s the reason why it’s there. It’s also a nod to my older brother Capital Steez, his first mixtape was called Amerikkkan Corruption, with three K’s and that I’m sure was a nod to Ice Cube, whose first album was called Amerikkka’s Most Wanted. It’s definitely a homage, but at the same time you have to understand that’s the side of the country that I’m talking to.
What do you want people to get up and do? Going back to the call to action, after they hear this, what are they doing?
It’s literally a call to action to whatever it is that they want to do, because at the end of the day it has a very strong message and strong and straightforward concept, but this is just a passionate human being just voicing his opinion and things that he wants to see differently or just things that he sees. So when I say call to action, it’s to anyone and anything for anything that they’re passionate about.
I heard that you have a particular fondness for Milk Studios and this whole team. Why have the album release party here?
You know, the first thing is I was looking for a venue to fit my car. Milk was one of them. I also had a solid rapport with Milk just from fashion weeks over the years and connecting with different people doing different events here. So we reached out to them, and at first they were booked up, all the way till May. Then literally a couple of days later, they called and said, “Yo, your date just freed up.” So I believe that it was supposed to happen here, almost. I was here, in this very room, I want to say last week or a week and a half ago probably, and my brother was shooting a music video here. So it just makes sense that it would be here. I think it happened for a reason.
Talking about fashion week and fashion and Milk, how do you see hip hop blending with fashion and your role in that? We’re seeing a lot of artists taking their music and turning it into clothing brands. Do you plan on doing something similar?
Well, you know, hip hop to me is a lifestyle. Sometimes I’ll be walking down the street, and me being a high profile person, sometimes I may be walking down the street and I’m by myself and I would see a group of people and depending on their style, like their choice of clothing and the brands they wear, that’s how I determine if they would know me or not. And if I should cross the street [laughs]. So to me, hip hop goes hand in hand with fashion and it makes sense that rappers would have clothing brands or even sneaker lines, because as early as the 1980s, hip hop has been solidifying fashion. You go back to RUN DMC “My Adidas”…if it wasn’t for that song and that time period, Adidas wouldn’t be as popular, because again, you have to remember that hip hop is a part of pop culture. So, these rappers stepping up to the plate and using their voices to speak, they’re also dictating what’s the stamp of approval that hip hop gives to the world. And you’ve been seeing fashion and hip hop weave a lot lately, because that line is getting really thin now. It’s pretty obvious. Rappers are some of the most stylish people you’ll ever meet. So yeah, it makes sense that hip hop and fashion blends the way it does.
So obviously, you’re not just an artist, but you’re also on Mr. Robot, which is dope. Anything you can say about that or what that experiences has been like from performing and being on camera and filming and shooting?
Yeah, acting has always been something that I was interested in, other than music. I went to high school for acting. I was in the screen theatre program. I was a drama student, that’s why I was there. I auditioned to get into my school. I was in that program for two years until I got kicked out, because you know, my attendance was horrible, and yeah, I just wasn’t showing up because music was there for me again. When I got to high school, music came back into my life like, “Look, this is what you need to do.” So that led to late night studio sessions, and that led to me to flunking school and missing school and getting dropped out of the acting program, but when that happened I was like, “You know what? I’m going to pursue this music dream and I’m going to be able to leverage my acting career off my music.” And that’s where I’m at.
Awesome. Last question, what’s something about you that would be surprising to people that they may not know?
I am part Irish, I am part Scottish and Panamanian, Indian. But also, I’m a whiskey drinker, I love whiskey.
Stay tuned to Milk for more music-minded heart-to-hearts.