“I Need My Own Show!” Joey Bada$$ on ‘Mr. Robot,’ New Music & Being An Icon [Interview]
It’s safe to say the words “up and coming” can officially be omitted when describing Joey Bada$$ as an artist.
While the Brooklyn wordsmith only continues to do what he’s always done since his 1999 project (rapping with extreme proficiency and substance), at just 22-years-old, Joey is setting the bar for all other hip-hop artists to follow.
With the release of his ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ album earlier this year, Joey used his voice to speak out on the devastations of Donald Trump, while painting pictures of police brutality and racial injustice. On “Devastated,” Joey showcased his ability to create radio-friendly hits while preserving the deeper message.
While AABA might not be a contender for Rap Album of the Year at this year’s Grammys, Joey understands and appreciates the beauty in all realms of hip-hop, including the trap artists and “mumble rap.” His humility and resilience is not only rare but valued.
We were able to get a minute of the touring artist’s time, as Joey Bada$$ spoke about his plans for the new year, why he needs his own show after this last season of Mr. Robot and his thoughts on the late Malcolm X.
Okayplayer: How would you sum up this year with everything going on?
Joey Bada$$: It was a crazy, crazy year. 2017 was definitely… let’s call it a game changer-type of a year.
OKP: What was one thing that you did differently this year than your contemporaries that will affect your 2018?
JB: I just did what I wanted to, which is what I do every year. And it’s definitely gonna affect my 2018 because I’ma do it again [laughs]. That’s really it. I just do what I wanna do. I ain’t really paid attention to nobody else. I’m on my own program.
OKP: You’ve been doing quite a few collabs. Talk about working with IDK and G-Eazy…
JB: Working with G-Eazy was dope — my man Statik [Seletah] hooked that up. It was just for Statik’s new album. Me and G, we’ve been planning to work, so it’s good that we got to do it via Statik. And IDK, that’s just the bro. That’s the homie.
OKP: I just interviewed him in L.A. I think he’s super slept on.
JB: Yeah, he had a really good album this year. And I brought him on the tour with me and everything.
OKP: Oh yeah, in Europe. How was that?
JB: It was dope, he did his thing! IDK, that’s my guy. We just did what was inevitable.
OKP: Who else do you want to work with in the new year?
JB: I’m pretty much open to working with whoever wants to work with me. I ain’t the type of guy to be like, ‘Oh I want to work with this person!’ When it happens, it happens. I just like the universe to dance.
OKP: Without spoiling it for anyone, you went truly “badass” in the Season Three finale of Mr. Robot. What was it was like to film that scene?
JB: It was fire! I was like, “[Laughs] I need my own show!” It was dope. I feel like everyone has those moments like you always wanted to be in an action movie type shit. You know I mean, giving it up crazy. So I’m glad I finally got my moment. And I’m sure that’s not gonna be the only one. That’s the first of many. So I’m excited for the film, the future, and s**t like that. Definitely something that’s just been organically growing. I’m pumped! I’m super excited about Mr. Robot, and I love my role on it. I been seeing a lot of good feedback and everything on it. A lot of people were like, “Season Four, we need more Leon!” I’m looking forward to whatever it might be.
OKP: How did it relate to your Season 2 “badass” move with those white supremacists?
JB: You know how it related. It’s just, you know, the murder weapon was different this time. That’s all [laughs].
OKP: Have you begun to wonder what’s next for your character in the next season?
JB: Yeah, hell yeah! Definitely.
OKP: So, very reputable publications are saying that you’re ready to obtain “icon status.” How does that make you feel when you hear or read critical acclaim like that?
JB: I’m like, they’re even late [laughs]. Y’all late! Yeah man, I been ready for icon status. Each day is just about me making sure I’m doing my part. We don’t strive for recognition, we strive to be worthy of recognition. I’m just making sure I’m doing my part and when the time comes, I’ll be ready.
OKP: Is there any progress on another Pro Era collective project?
JB: Oh yeah! It’s a lot of progress on that: 2018. Stay tuned.
OKP: Any sneak peek you can offer?
JB: You can look forward to something new at the top of this year. Definitely. We gon’ start as early as the top of the year. We understand that we been a little quiet. We been more than a little quiet. 2018 is definitely the turn up year, and everything. We ain’t gon’ stop! That’s a little exclusive [laughs].
OKP: As an aside question, we wanted to know how old were you when you read The Autobiography of Malcolm X since it was a big influence on you?
OKP: What ideas did it spark in you that still resonate with you today?
JB: Just the way I carry myself. Leadership qualities. S**t, that book definitely helped me make my last album. And I’m sure it’s gonna inspire me for my whole lifetime.
OKP: What would you want the message to be for your autobiography to future generations?
JB: I’m afraid that’s a question that I can’t really answer in much detail right now. But what I would say as an overall gist, I would just really want it to show kids that you can really do whatever you put your mind to. And that’s really general. But like I said, when is that gonna happen? Probably 30 years from now! [laughs]. I got much time to think about it.
OKP: Is there anything else that you want to let Okayplayer know?
JB: New music in 2018! On the way, there’s a whole bunch of that.
Shirley Ju is a Los Angeles-based writer who grew up in the Bay Area. She lives, breathes, and sleeps hip-hop, and is literally on top of new music the moment it is released. If there’s a show in L.A., you can find her there. Follow the latest on her fomoblog.com and on Twitter @shirju.