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The North Wind

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The North Wind

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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Joey’s a$$ bad album drops, like hopes and expectations

re-B4.AANew York is undergoing a hip-hop renaissance, largely in Brooklyn, which is producing a new millennium tone distinct from previous generations. Groups like Pro Era (the topic here), Flatbush Zombies and the Underachievers are proving that hip-hop is still conscientious, provocative, innovative and essential.

At first, Brooklyn’s blow-up emerged like a response to Los Angeles based group Odd Future’s dismal lack of talent (besides Earl Sweatshirt, whose suck-level is moderate), as if to resurrect old East Coast-West Coast rivalries with less tangible bada$$ery. But now that Brooklyn has told Odd Future to stuff holes, the New York artists have moved on to brighter days.

Of these rappers, Pro Era’s pinnacle Joey Bada$$ is one of several raw talents coming out of Brooklyn. He mixes hip-hop’s original themes of political consciousness and social change into more accessible topics like banging. He helps make politics dope. Nothing new here, but still neat.

Unfortunately, Joey’s new album, redundantly titled “B4.DA.$$,” leaves a lot to be desired. Not much bada$$ happening here. He’s honestly stronger with his Pro Era cohorts (mostly absent from “B4.DA.$$”) than solo.

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Here’s the album’s thematic run-down: cold world, no blanket; established rap lyrics appropriated into their original meanings; money sucks, but necessary; swagvertising; wordplay!; pseudo-revelations; solid attempts.

Joey dedicates large swaths of “B4.DA.$$” to discuss his success, which prompted the return he’s currently presenting to you (sad for rappers who’ve tapped their intellectual resources on previous drops — cutting slack, hip-hop is lyric intensive and taps a lot of resources) and few tracks other than his single involve high thoughts (though all tracks involve bad puns).

Upon the album finale “Teach Me,” featuring Kiesza, who teaches us how-to-dance, how-to-dance, how-to-dance; this thought happened:

“Is that the singer who does the ‘I stay out too late’ number?”

Google corrected me. So, things could be worse. The album possesses redeeming qualities, but they aren’t prominent. It could grow on me still.

What Joey achieved on “B4.DA.$$” is a distinct sound, but that’s mostly thanks to his producer’s prowess. I’ll call the backing-tracks appropriate to his style and occasionally sublime, but good hooks doth not an album make.

He didn’t so much reinvent himself as reiterate himself, leaving me looking elsewhere to get turnt up.

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