Joey Bada$$ Is Bringing Back The Grassroots Of Hip-Hop

It would make sense for older rap fans, who love blaming young rappers for ruining the genre with their ratchet ways, to embrace Joey Bada$$, an 18-year-old ’90s-hip-hop revivalist. But the Brooklyn MC has received more backlash than praise from old heads lately. He has been called derivative, overly nostalgic, disingenuous and a mimic for his efforts to create music that showcases the boom-bap production style and complex lyricism of ’90s golden-era hip-hop. But to see Joey Bada$$ live is to understand his music and his motives a bit better. At many of his shows, it is clear that he isn’t parroting rap legends in an effort to market himself to those who grew up on ’90s hip-hop; he’s trying to bring that music to listeners his age. For those who cut their teeth on Lil Wayne but feel more of a kinship with Big L, he fills an important void. Joey Bada$$ gives young people a taste of a wonderful time in hip-hop history, and his live show lets them experience it without having to party with people as old as their parents.

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