Like a Sid Vicious or Johnny Rotten, the spirit of rebellion is alive in Joey Badass, the 18-year-old rapper who fronts up-and-coming Brooklyn collective Pro Era.
The crew came together in 2009 at Edward R. Murrow High School, the same place that spawned renowned creatives like graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch.
Bored by the mass-produced, lyrically shallow hip-hop being pushed by the media, Badass and Pro Era decided to take matters into their own hands.
See also: Five Signs You Might Be a Shitty Rapper
Just out of high school, and the first of his immediate Jamaican family to be born in the U.S., Badass put out two mixtapes and garnered approval from big alternative media outlets like Vice, Pitchfork, and Interview Magazine. He was even offered a deal with Jay Z's Roc Nation, which he famously turned down.
This Friday, joined by Ab-Soul and Pro Era players, Joey Badass will hit Grand Central with a sampling of his laid-back beats, intelligent rhymes, and smooth, West Indian-flavored flow.
So in anticipation of his trip to the 305, we here at Crossfade caught up with the cheeky young rapper as he prepped for a much-needed nap. Topics included the best food in Brooklyn, his backup career in the NBA, and the current status of his debut album, B4.Da.$$, due out next year.
Crossfade: You're on the Smokers Club Tour with Ab-Soul and the whole crew. What's been one of the best moments so far?
Joey Badass: Probably the Santa Ana show. It was sold out, and there was a lot of energy.
What's something you can't live without on the road?
Music. Just a lot of beats. Beats I'm making, other people making, [beats by] Kirk Knight.
What's the best part about growing up in Brooklyn?
Probably the food, and the people.
Best food in Brooklyn?
West Indian food.
Like your mom's food?
What's the last thing you did or made that you were proud of.
Yeah, I made up my mind and I'm proud.
What are some of your pet peeves? What about other people really annoys you?
When they come off too strong.
Can you tell me what's been inspiring you lately? Musically, spiritually, in life, whatever?
Reading. I've been reading a lot lately.
What are you reading?
I know you're into poetry and acting and astronomy. What would you be doing if you weren't making music?
I'd probably be in the NBA.
So you play basketball in your free time?
I mean, yeah. But because I rap, it's not what I do all the time. But if I wasn't rapping, I'd definitely be giving more time to ball.
How is the debut album going? Are you at a point yet where you can compare it to the mixtapes?
It's moving along pretty well. I'm really just taking my time, you know. Just moving on steady, real steady with it. I'm not forcing anything. I'm pretty much, you know, letting everything come to me.
Do you have a date yet for when it'll come out?
Nah. Like Q2, Q3 of next year.
Can you tell me any of the other people you'll have on the album?
No, because I want it to be a surprise.
You're stopping here in Miami soon. Have you ever been?
Yeah, I love Miami. I like that everything is right on the coast, right on the water.
Anything else you want to talk about?
Are you going to go to sleep now?
Yeah, I'm going to dream about you.
Joey Badass and Pro Era. As part of the Smokers Club Tour. With Ab-Soul, the Underachievers, Chevy Woods, plus DJ Statik Selektah and host Emperor Shiest Bubz. Friday, November 22. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $22 to $60 plus fees via ticketfly.com. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.
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