Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ has released his highly-anticipated debut album, Before Da Money (stylized as B4.Da.$$). After appearing as a XXL Freshman in 2013 and releasing two well-received mixtapes, fans were anticipating what the rapper would come up with after announcing his album in mid-2014. The album doesn’t disappoint, and also has the ability to entice new fans to join the Pro Era Movement.

B4.Da.$$ Music Review

The standout difference between this album and his mixtapes is the personal look into Joey Bada$$’s life, which aside for a handful of tracks, he had previously avoided. The track “Piece of Mind,” about his friend in jail via a phone call, is similar to Nas’ “One Time.”

The grimy tracks “Big Dusty,” “Belly of the Beast” and “No. 99″ (which samples A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Miss Lover”), evoke the 90’s throwback sound that Joey has now become known for. Aside from the boom-bap sound of years past, Bada$$ also shows a softer side with “Hazeus View,” “ Like Me” (which features singer BJ the Chicago Kid), and “On and On” (a tribute to fallen Pro Era members Capital Steez and Junior B).

“Escape 120” is a complete departure from the rest of the album because it shows an experimental side of Bada$$. He and Pro Era producer Chuck Strangers utilize a fast almost industrial trip-hop beat. With the help of Atlanta alternative singer Raury (who rapped to the beat in the style of Andre 3000), Bada$$ showed his detractors he is more than his 90’s sound and can step out of his comfort zone.

Overall, it’s a solid debut album. The album is crisp, and the same Dilla/MF Doom influence of his mixtapes is there, but he added a couple more styles to his repertoire in the past year that he was able to utilize successfully on B4.Da.$$.  While lacking a song that could put the album into commercial success, it should be an underrated album that will garner the praise of many “Hip-Hop heads” throughout the year.

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