March 31, 2015

For The Max-Approved Mixtape: Joey Bada$$ - "Underground Airplay"

Artist: Joey Bada$$ featuring Smoke DZA & Big K.R.I.T.
Title: "Underground Airplay"
Producer: Navie D.
Album: Underground Airplay (mixtape; presented by Ecko Unlimited) (2013)

I'm using this new series as an outlet to occasionally talk about songs I like that wouldn't ever come up on the blog naturally, just in case you two are wondering just what the hell I'm doing writing about "Underground Airplay".  The short version is, I like it a lot.  The long version follows below.

Blogger favorite Joey Bada$$, the kid who seems to bathe in 1990s-era hip hop, doesn't do it for me for the most part.  The kid can spit, no question, and his ear for beats is in better working condition that those of his immediate peers, but for me, most of his music sounds a bit hollow, as though he's borrowed the overall sound of the era of hip hop I so obviously prefer, but not the aesthetic, and certainly not the passion and soul, and that makes it fairly easy to dismiss him and his Pro Era teammates.  

There are exceptions to every rule, though, and not just the late Capital STEEZ, who wasn't bad, either.  I tend to prefer Joey Bada$$ on posse cuts, where he is just one of many ingredients, as opposed to being the goddamn chef.  Specifically, there are two that come to mind, and he just so happens to be killed by the same guest artist on both tracks.  The first is A$AP Rocky's massive "1 Train".  The second is the subject of today's post.

"Underground Airplay" so expertly mimics the late 1990s feel that I've been missing in my music, from its banging Navie D. beat (who is this guy?  Anyone have any more production credits for him I can check out?) to the low-budget video filmed in a fucking tunnel.  Joey crafted this track while serving as a brand ambassador or some shit for the clothing line Ecko Unlimited, and he was tasked with putting together a mixtape to promote the brand, because music sells clothes, obviously, but he was smart enough to make himself the headliner and the first artist on the track; even though he repeats a few of his bars at the end, he shows that, when focused, he can deliver good-to-great performances.  

"Underground Airplay" ostensibly gives airtime to three rappers who thrive on the underground scene, and Smoke DZA and Big K.R.I.T. certainly fit that bill.  DZA's confident-pothead-boastful flow clashes beautifully with the beat, as he drops gems effortlessly like Sonic the Hedgehog loses rings after getting hit.  But this show (and "1 Train", in case you hadn't figured it out) belongs to Mississippi native K.R.I.T., who thrives on these East Coast bangers so much that it's a wonder that he doesn't occasionally mix up the sounds on his own shit.  

All three rappers on here sound so perfect against the beat that it's impossible to not put this on your own playlist.  Hell, this shit is so good that I have yet to listen to the mixtape in full.  Just the opening stings of the beat are enough to get you amped up and start spitting bars with your friends outside of a project building, maybe or maybe not while standing next to some trash cans with flames shooting out of them, it's your call.

Side note:  I'm still not writing a review of Joey's debut album B4.DA.$$, as I'm trying not to put more on my plate.  But for those of you who must know: yes, I listened to the album, and no, I didn't like the majority of it.  Joey sounds technically proficient, but a lot of the songs blend in to one another too easily, and that bonus track with Kiesza sucks.  The only tracks I found myself really liking were the Statik Selektah-produced joints; even the Primo track didn't work in my ears.  I think a little of Joey goes a long way, obviously; had he come up during the height of the Boot Camp Clik era, he would have slid into that roster perfectly, right?  But maybe that's just me.

Do you agree or disagree with this selection?  Discuss below.


  1. Sorry, but Krit is the only one who shows any sort of skill. It is what it is. Very few New Yorkers pay attention to skill anymore. At least Trillmatic was awesome from beginning to end, and NOT because Mef dropped a verse. Nast KILLED his shit and Ty Beats brought it on the fucking boards.

    1. And that's where you and I disagree. I only really like "Trillmatic" because of Method Man. The beat was pretty good too, but Nast wasn't all that great in my opinion.

    2. For some reason, Trillmatic reminds me of Onyx - Evil Streets (Remix) ft. Method Man

  2. Don't get me wrong. Mef was AWESOME. I just think Nast was equally good. Anyway, to each his own.

  3. I liked this selection Max, because it's a track you've never acknowledged before. Like everyone knows Rainy Dayz is great, you've already told us it once. But i prefer this, tracks previously unreviewed. Good outlet for people to hear rare songs. And no, rhyming and stealing isn't a rare song

  4. I like that you shouted out a song from a rapper you haven't reviewed. This mixtape series is fun. Almost wish we could get more than one track :O but either way I like it. Gonna peep this track later

  5. Joey Badass is snore music

  6. Interesting choice! I really liked Joey Badass' 1999 mixtape, but haven't been as impressed since, although I enjoyed parts of his debut.
    I do like your idea of him slipping into the 90s Boot Camp Clik roster, though: that could've been something. Speaking of which, still hoping for a Starang Wondah solo...

  7. Regarding Joey huh... i think you are right. He has some skills the only problem is that he seems to try to hard to impress lyrically to the point that he feels like he puts no soul in his music.
    KRIT is one of my favorites. Always killing