I’m a firm believer in the idea that it’s impossible to form a reasonable opinion about a mixtape, album or an artists’ body of work after one or two listens (first to last track), so I waited a few weeks and listened to the project over and over again, front to back and side to side…Here’s what I think..
JoeyBadA$$ first mixtape, 1999, where he introduced himself to the music scene, set the bar for himself (and the music industry) so high that I was on pins and needles waiting to see how he could follow such a high standard. However, my anxiety wasn’t necessary because he followed up with a smooth project that kept his raw “90’s flow” in tact but presented a more serious and darker tone than 1999. The entire project was strictly lyrical. He also served up a lil something for the ladies to vibe to with “Right On Time” Prod. by Kirk Knight who is freaking amazing and produced one of my favorite songs from 1999 “Where It’$ At”. He teamed up with Kirk on a couple songs for Summer Knights which I thought was dope.
Summer Knights started with “Alowha” Prod. by Kirk Knight which served well as an intro because it created the vibe and set the tone for the rest of the tape. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, all around this poison world…aaawww yeaa..we back!” I shrieked and jumped out of my seat the first time I heard that part (I had high anticipation for this project lol). Check out the visual below.
Next is “Hillary $wank” Prod. by Lee Bannon. The trumpet on the track is ill, scratch that the entire beat is SICK. This one is definitely one that you bump through Brooklyn with the top down. Joey hips everyone who didn’t know that “Swank” is the new wave for swag. There are a lot of witty lines in this one.
“My Youth” feat. Collie Buddz Prod. by Chuck Strangers beat has a reggae feel to it reflecting the musical heart of Bedstuy. Joey talks about his personal experiences which reflect the youth as a whole.
On to “Death of YOLO” feat. Smoke DZA Prod. by Bruce Leekix which is one of my personal favorites from the project. It makes me feel like I’m in the 90’s again, windows down in Brooklyn when music was great. Joey makes a play on Drake’s “YOLO” as he talks about having daring experiences because “you only live onceee”.
“Right On Time” Prod. by Kirk Knight is a track where Joey seems to be speaking on his relationship with his girlfriend. I actually watched him record this track on a Ustream he did very close to the release date so I assume this was a last minute addition. I love the element this song brings to the tape. It softens it a little bit from the hardcore lyrics and gives the ladies something to vibe to.
“Sweet Dreams” Prod. by Navie D, “Sweet Dreams stuck in the 90’s, 90’s baby’s it’s a matter of time” makes me think of the track as one big metaphor. I assume the dream is the 90’s era where Joey’s mind-frame is. Lyrically, he speaks on the jabs that comes along with success.
“47 Goonz” feat. Dirty Sanchez & Nyck Caution is another track prod. by Lee Bannon. I literally felt like I was in a old-school cypher with Joey listening to him MC. This song was one of those bar for bar joints. One of those “don’t move your ear from the stereo to be sure not to miss a dope line” songs.
“Word Is Bond” prod. by Statik Selektah is a piano based joint where I really felt Joey’s confidence. He delivered once again, the head-bobbing 90’s feel and a track with substance. However, I wish the song was a little longer to do its full justice.
“Sit N’ Prey” feat. Dessy Hings and T’Nah Apex Prod. by Navie D starts off with a monologue of a conversation. Joey discusses battles of life and praying for better. Once again another lyrical track.
“Trap Door” prod. by Alchemist is a short track where he talks about relations with a female that paints a vivid picture in my mind. Joey plays story-teller on this one.
“Satellite” feat. Chuck Strangers, Kirk Knight and Dessy Hinds is another joint produced by Lee Bannon. By this point in the tape, I do feel like I’ve had enough of the dark tone so I’ll pause it for a few then later get back to it. Everyone on the song delivers the bars and flow perfect on the beat. Lyrically, it makes sense.
On to “95′ Til Infinity” which is yet another produced by Lee Bannon (all of his tracks on the tape are dope). This is another one of my favorite tracks. I love the way Joey raps on this joint. He brings that attitude that makes everything he says so compelling. Whipping in and out of words and bars, “I don’t throw subs I throw torpedo’s” BOOM! This track is definitely one I would pick out of the bunch which made it clear why Joey created the visual. Dope video also.
“Amethyst Rockstar” feat. Kirk Knight prod. by DOOM. Fast flow and the lyrics are there. Kirk Knight also shows up to the plate with his well-done addition to the song. Also, shoutout to the attempts to sing at the end (lol)
“Reign” is a track prod. by Chuck Strangers, “It ain’t always sunny on the sunny side, but I’ll stop shining when the bunny’s fly”. I loveee that line. I also like the hook on this one.
“Sorry Bonita” feat. Pro Era prod. by Oddisee pays homage to A Tribe Called Quest’s classic “Bonita AppleBum. It’s a metaphoric track and mellows out the mood with the lighter beat, ramble about girls, singing attempts and the female voiceover. Smoothh track.
“#LongLiveSteelo” prod. by Kirk Knight is a heartfelt track dedicated to the late Capital Steez who recently passed away. I definitely shed a tear after hearing this one. I felt the pain in Joey’s voice and it automatically emotionally got to me. RIP STEEZ #LONGLIVESTEELO. Also, shouts to the female vocals on this joint that definitely softened it up.
Last but not least, “Unorthodox” prod. by DJ Premier which is a Bonus track. This is a track I heard awhile back. Joey spits about not accepting deals, not giving in to the cold world and staying down. Real $*it.
All in all, I’d give Summer Knights an 8/10. It definitely doesn’t contain anything I would expect to hear on the radio outside of hardcore hip-hop stations but that was to be expected considering the extremely mainstream direction stations tend to go these days. Joey touches on deep, relatable and real topics on Summer Knights which gave me a sense of maturity from him. He definitely has grown since his last project. The two contrast in tone as 1999 was a bit more swifty nevertheless, Summer Knights still delivered the JoeyBadA$$ I know and love. Production wise, Summer Knights was on another level. I think the beats could sell on their own. He kept the features low for the most part which I like and on songs that had features Joey took charge. The project came out on July 1st which I think was the perfect timing for it. The tape is great for that “summer vibe”.
As of now, this is what I think of Joey’s new project, with more listens my opinion could change. Download it here at—–> http://www.datpiff.com/Joey-Bada-Summer-Knights-mixtape.494039.html